Report: Global Zeal for Arms Increased between 2018-2022

April 11, 2023

For the first time, two Arab countries, Jordan and the UAE, have joined the list of top 25 arms exporters globally.
A handgun is seen at a gun shop in New Jersey, United States on May 26, 2022. Photo by Anadolu Images


ine Arab countries have entered the club of the top 40 weapons-buying countries in the world, according to a recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). At the same time, between 2018 and 2022, arms imports by European countries increased by 47% compared to 2013-17 while imported arms decreased by 40% in Africa, 21% in the Americas, 7.5% in Asia and Oceania, and 8.8% in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the global powers’ share in arms exports has varied, with the U.S. share increasing from 33% between 2013-2017 to 40% from 2018-2022, while Russia’s share fell from 22% to 16% in the same years. China’s share of global arms exports amounted to 5.2%, Germany’s share stands at 4.2%,  Italy’s at 3.8%, and Israel’s at 2.3% between 2018-2022.

For the first time, two Arab countries, namely Jordan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), have joined the list of top 25 arms exporters globally.

Algeria’s global share of arms imports has declined from 4.1% in 2013-2017 to 1.8% in 2018-2022, moving the country from 12th position to 18th in arms-importing countries globally. Algeria remains the top country in Africa importing arms.

Morocco’s arms sales have declined from 1.1% in 2013-2017 to 0.8% in 2018-2022 globally. Morocco currently ranks 29th among arms-exporting countries—a decline from the 21st position it held.

The GCC takes the lead

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) occupied the first ranking in arms imports, with 180 war jets ordered by the Gulf monarchies out of 260 exported to the Middle East. Notably, arms exports to the Arab Maghreb have declined while exports to Egypt, which has 4.2% of the global share of arms imports, remained the same.

In 2018-2022, Saudi Arabia came after India in global arms imports, with a total percentage of 9.6% following India’s 11%.

Saudi Arabia’s arms imports declined slightly from 10% of global arms purchases in 2013 to of 8.7% in 2017.

Qatar moved from the position of the world’s 17th arms importer in 2013-2017, to third in the world in 2018-2022, with an increase of 311%.

The United States was the main contributor to exporting arms to Qatar with 42%, followed by France with 29%, and Italy with 14%.

Egypt and the UAE

The economic crisis in Egypt did not affect the share of its arms imports. Although Egypt receives approximately $1.3 billion annually in U.S. military aid, the United States is not among the top three arms suppliers to Cairo.

Instead, Russia topped this list with circa 34%, followed by Italy and France with 19% each.

On the other hand, the UAE arms imports have declined moving the country from fifth place in the world (2013-2017) to 11th (2018-2022).

It is likely that the decline in the country’s arms imports is related to the country’s shift towards manufacturing its own weapons, and even exporting them, thus joining the club of top 25 arms exporters.

The UAE ranked 18th in the world in arms exports, accounting for 0.4% of the world’s total arms exports.

Between 2018 and 2022, the UAE exported 28% of Egypt’s arms imports, 27% of Jordan’s, and 15% of Algeria’s.

The United States was the main supplier of arms to the UAE, with about 66%, followed by Turkey (7.4%).

Russia ranked third with 5.4%, although the UAE army is known for its reliance on Western weapons.

The war in Ukraine and East Asian arms exports

Ukraine has become the third-largest recipient of global arms in 2022, accounting for 2% of global arms purchases between 2018 and 2022.

Between the years 2013 and 2017 and the years 2018 and 2022, arms imports by East Asian states increased by 21%. The SIPRI report concluded that “[a]rms imports by China rose by 4.1 per cent, with most coming from Russia. However, the biggest increases in East Asia were by U.S. allies South Korea (+61%) and Japan (+171%).” The report went on to state, “Australia, the largest arms importer in Oceania, increased its imports by 23 per cent.”

The list of major arms importers did not include Arab countries such as Oman, Sudan, Libya, Iraq, Tunisia, Syria, Mauritania, and Lebanon.

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