Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2003-2010
Richard F. Grimmett
Specialist in International Security
September 22, 2011
This report is prepared annually to provide Congress with official, unclassified, quantitative data
on conventional arms transfers to developing nations by the United States and foreign countries
for the preceding eight calendar years for use in its policy oversight functions. All agreement and
delivery data in this report for the United States are government-to-government Foreign Military
Sales (FMS) transactions. Similar data are provided on worldwide conventional arms transfers by
all suppliers, but the principal focus is the level of arms transfers by major weapons suppliers to
nations in the developing world.
Developing nations continue to be the primary focus of foreign arms sales activity by weapons
suppliers. During the years 2003-2010, the value of arms transfer agreements with developing
nations comprised 72.9% of all such agreements worldwide. More recently, arms transfer
agreements with developing nations constituted 78.9% of all such agreements globally from
2007-2010, and 76.2% of these agreements in 2010.
The value of all arms transfer agreements with developing nations in 2010 was over $30.7 billion.
This was a decline from $49.8 billion in 2009. In 2010, the value of all arms deliveries to
developing nations was nearly $21.9 billion, the highest total in these deliveries values since 2006
(in constant 2010 dollars).
Recently, from 2007 to 2010, the United States and Russia have dominated the arms market in the
developing world, with both nations either ranking first or second for each of these four years in
the value of arms transfer agreements. From 2007 to 2010, the United States made nearly $72
billion in such agreements, 40.1% all these agreements expressed in constant 2010 dollars. Russia
made $37.1 billion, 20.7% of these agreements. During this same period, collectively, the United
States and Russia made 60.8% of all arms transfer agreements with developing nations, ($109.1
billion [in constant 2010 dollars]) during this four-year period.
In 2010, the United States ranked first in arms transfer agreements with developing nations with
over $14.9 billion or 48.6% of these agreements, a significant increase in market share from
2009, when the United States held a 30.3% market share. In second place was Russia with $7.6
billion or 24.7% of such agreements.
In 2010, the United States ranked first in the value of arms deliveries to developing nations at
$8.6 billion, or 39.2% of all such deliveries. Russia ranked second in these deliveries at $4.8
billion or 21.4%.
In worldwide arms transfer agreements in 2010—to both developed and developing nations—the
United States dominated, ranking first with $21.3 billion in such agreements or 52.7% of all such
agreements. Ranking second in worldwide arms transfer agreements in 2010 was Russia with
$7.8 billion in such global agreements or 19.3%. The value of all arms transfer agreements
worldwide in 2010 was $40.4 billion. This was a substantial decrease in arms agreements values
over 2009 of 38.1%, and the lowest worldwide arms agreements total since 2003.
In 2010, India ranked first in the value of arms transfer agreements among all developing nations
weapons purchasers, concluding $5.8 billion in such agreements. Taiwan ranked second with
$2.7 billion in such agreements. Saudi Arabia ranked third with $2.2 billion.