US corners 42 percent of world arms market

WASHINGTON, Oct 1, 2007 (AFP) – The United States reaffirmed last year its leadership in world arms trade, cornering nearly 42 percent of the market as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan prompted a weapons shopping spree among neighboring nations, according to a congressional report set to be released Monday. But the overall volume of weapons trade shrunk almost 13 percent, dealing a blow to France and other Western European suppliers, which are facing stiff competition from across the Atlantic, said the Congressional Research Service in its annual survey of international arms sales.

The United States ranked first in international arms transfer agreements last year, concluding 16.9 billion dollars worth of them and securing 41.9 percent of the market, according to the report.

The total represented a 3.4-billion-dollar increase over 2005.

Russia boosted its worldwide arms sales by 1.2 billion dollars, ending 2006 in second place with a total of 8.7 billion dollars, or 21.6 percent of the market.

Britain came in third, but its arms exports grew only 200 million over 2005 and the overall volume of arms transfer deals stood at just 3.1 billion dollars, less than a fifth of the US total.

All told, the United States, Russia and Britain controlled last year more than 71 percent of internatio