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Summary Article: arms trade from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Sale of conventional weapons, such as tanks, combat aircraft, and related technology, from a manufacturing country to another nation. Arms exports are known in the trade as ‘arms transfers’. Most transfers take place between governments and can be accompanied by training and maintenance agreements. International agreements, such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, outlaw the transfer of nuclear weapons and weapons of biological or chemical warfare. There are also agreements not to supply conventional weapons to certain countries which may use weapons for internal repression or neighbour disputes. However, an active black market means that such arms embargoes are typically overcome.

Scale of arms trade Government and commercial secrecy has meant that the size of the global arms trade can only be estimated. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the average volume of worldwide arms transfers in 2006–10 was 24% higher than in 2001–05. The top five arms suppliers – the USA, Russia, Germany, France, and the UK – accounted for 75% of all exports of major conventional weapons in 2006–10. India became the largest arms importer over that period.

UK arms trade The UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organization (UKTIDSO) promotes arms exports by companies based in the UK. In 2010, the UK sold 4% of the total worth of exports of arms and related equipment.

US arms trade The USA possesses the most powerful conventional and nuclear armed forces in the world, and is also the world's largest arms exporter, with a 30% share of the market in 2010.

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Campaign Against Arms Trade

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