This is a complex and controversial topic that involves many factors, such as geopolitics, economics, security, and human rights.
Here is a brief overview of what I found:
- According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the volume of international transfers of major arms in 2018–22 was 5.1 per cent lower than in 2013–17, but 23 per cent higher than in 2004–20081. The main regions that increased their arms imports were Europe (+47 per cent), the Middle East (+8.8 per cent), and Africa (+40 per cent)1. The main regions that decreased their arms imports were Asia and Oceania (–7.5 per cent) and the Americas (–21 per cent)1.
- The five largest arms importers in 2018–22 were India, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Australia, and China1. The five largest arms exporters were the United States, Russia, France, China, and Germany1. The US increased its share of global arms exports to 37 per cent in 2018–22, while Russia’s share dropped to 20 per cent1. France and China also increased their shares, while Germany’s share remained stable1.
- Some of the main drivers of the surge in arms sales were the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, such as the Israel-Hamas war, the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, and the Iran-Saudi rivalry23; the rising tensions between Russia and NATO over Ukraine and other issues45; and the perceived threat of China’s military expansion in Asia-Pacific6 . These factors led to increased demand for advanced weapons systems, such as missile defense systems, fighter jets, drones, tanks, and submarines246.
- The surge in arms sales also raised some ethical and humanitarian concerns, such as the risk of escalation of violence, human rights violations, civilian casualties, corruption, and diversion of resources from social needs235 . Some activists and experts called for more transparency, accountability, and regulation of the global arms trade to prevent or mitigate these negative impacts235 .
I hope this summary helps you get a better understanding of the surge in international arms sales.