- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2003

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10 (UPI) — The United States continued to be the largest exporter of arms in the previous decade followed by Western Europe, says a report released Monday by the U.S. State Department.

The report also shows that poverty does not prevent nations from buying weapons. South Asia, one of the world's poorest regions, had the highest annual growth rate in military expenditure, thanks mainly to India-Pakistan rivalry.

They have already have fought three wars since their independence in 1947 and in 1998 they also acquired nuclear capability, exposing more than a billion people to the threat of a nuclear conflict.

Other developing nations were not far behind in this deadly race. According to the U.S. State Department, developing countries reached an all-time high in 1999 with $245 billion spent on their militaries. This was a 3 percent increase over the previous year and an 18 percent increase over the 1989 level.

— World military expenditures rose 2 percent in 1999 to $852 billion, a modest 4 percent above the post-Cold War low in 1996, but 35 percent below the level of a decade earlier.

— The military spending of developed countries also grew 2 percent in 1999, ending a continuous decline throughout the decade to the 1998 post-Cold-War low. The 1999 level was 45 percent below that in 1989.

— North America accounted for the largest regional portion, or 34 percent, of 1999 world military spending with the U.S. alone accounting for 33 percent. Western Europe with 22 percent had the second largest share.

— Two major shifts in regional shares of world military expenditures occurred over the 1989-1999 decade. Eastern Europe's share fell from 34 percent to 7 percent with the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. East Asia's share more than doubled, from 10 percent to 21 percent, primarily because China's estimated spending grew by 64 percent.

— South Asia had the highest average annual growth rate of any region in the decade, with 5 percent. Its share of world military spending more than doubled (from 0.8 percent to 2.0 percent), reflecting the military buildup between India and Pakistan.

Arms imports:

— World arms trade grew 8.5 percent in 1999 to $51.6 billion. This was 19 percent above the post-Cold War low in 1994, though still 40 percent below the all-time high reached in 1987.

— Developed countries' arms imports rose to $29.5 billion in 1999. Since 1995 they averaged a hefty 13 percent annual growth, while developing countries' imports declined 6 percent.

— Reversing the traditional predominance of developing country imports, the developed countries raised their share of total arms imports from 35 percent in 1989 to 57 percent in 1999, while the developing share declined from 65 percent to 43 percent.

— Western Europe was the largest arms-importing region in 1999, with $15.1 billion or 29 percent of the world's total. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries accounted for nearly half, or 49 percent of total arms imports. The top three regions — Western Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia —accounted for 78 percent of the world's arms imports.

— The top five importing countries in 1999 — Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Japan, China-Taiwan, and United Kingdom — accounted for 37 percent of world arms imports.

Arms exports:

— World arms exports ($51.6 billion, equaling arms imports) rose 8.5 percent in 1999 after a spike in 1997 and a downturn in 1998 influenced by the Asian financial crisis.

— Developed nations' arms exports in 1999 were 96 percent of the world's, 20 percent above the 1994 post-Cold-War low, 24 percent below the 1989 level, and 36 percent below the all-time peak in 1987.

— North America led the regions in 1999 with 65 percent of the world, while Western Europe had 23 percent and Eastern Europe, 8.5 percent. The United States, with 69 percent of the total export agreements signed from 1997-1999, is likely to dominate the world arms market in the near future.

— A tendency toward greater collaboration and interdependence in arms production is apparent, as half of U.S. arms imports came from five of the other top exporters and the majority of their imports came from the United States.

Other indicators:

— The number of people serving in the world's armed forces fell 26 percent over the decade to 21.3 million in 1999. The six largest forces (in thousands) were China — 2,400, United States — 1,490, India — 1,300, North Korea — 1,000, Russia — 900, and Turkey — 789.

— The world's military burden ratio, military expenditures to GNP, fell sharply from 4.7 percent in 1989 to 2.4 percent in 1999. The developed nations' ratio fell from 4.8 percent to 2.3 percent and the developing nations', from 4.1 percent to 2.7 percent. The Middle East ratio in 1999 was 6.8 percent.

— The world's average military expenditures per-capita ratio, a general measure of security costs, fell 43 percent from $254 in 1989 to $142 in 1999. Developed countries spent an average $517 per capita in 1999, 10 times the average $51 spent in developing countries.

— Military expenditures per member of the armed forces, which may serve as an indicator of technological preparedness levels, in 1999 averaged $92,600 per serviceman in developed nations and $16,600 in developing nations, with a range of $189,000 in the United States to less than $1,000 in several low-income countries.


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