Global arms transfer agreements between governments – both developing and developed – nearly doubled last year to $85.3 billion, reaching their highest level since 2004.
The U.S. dominated as a supplier, making $66.3 billion from transactions with other nations – a record high representing nearly 78% of all weapons sales, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service.
The haul is more than triple the $21.4 billion the U.S. made from arms agreements in 2010.
Russia was the second-most-prolific player on the arms scene, making $4.8 billion in sales in 2011, or 5.6% of the total. Since 2008, Russia and the U.S. have flip-flopped between the two top supplier positions.
Saudi Arabia bought the most arms of any country. It spent $33.7 billion on weapons, with 99% of that amount going to the U.S. India was next with a $6.9-billion arms bill, followed by the $4.5 billion spent by the United Arab Emirates.
Last year, 83.9% of global arms transfer agreements were made with developing countries, according to the report.
Despite the surge in sales, the report finds that "the international arms market is not likely growing overall" and that the heated activity out of the U.S. "seems a clear outlier figure."
The "weakened state of the global economy," coupled with the Eurozone debt crisis have "generally limited defense purchases of prospective customers," according to the report.
Still, arms dealing is a lucrative business and competition is intense. Suppliers are trying to lure customers with "flexible financing options and guarantees of counter-trade, co-production, licensed production and co-assembly elements in their contracts," according to the report.
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