US arms exports up


US arms sales to foreign governments rose 13% to $192.3 billion (£147.2 billion) in the year ending September 30, the State Department said, a result of looser restrictions on sales coupled with high-level efforts to close deals.

President Donald Trump wants to make the United States, already dominant in the global weapons trade, a bigger arms merchant to the world, US officials said, despite concerns among human rights and arms control advocates.

The largest US arms contractors who sell ships, tanks, airplanes, missiles and other goods to foreign militaries, include Boeing Co, Lockheed Martin Corp, Raytheon Co, General Dynamics Corp and Northrop Grumman Corp.

The increase is in part because the Trump administration rolled out a new “Buy American” plan in April relaxing restrictions on sales while encouraging US officials to take a bigger role in increasing foreign business for the US weapons industry.

There are two major ways foreign governments purchase arms from US companies: direct commercial sales, negotiated between government and a company; and foreign military sales, in which a foreign government works with the Pentagon on a potential deal. Both require approval by the US government.

Commercial sales of US military equipment to foreign governments rose 6.6% from $128.1 billion to $136.6 billion in the fiscal year, the State Department said.

In October, government said US foreign military sales rose 33% to $55.6 billion in the fiscal year.

Combined, it is a 13% year-on-year increase in weapons exports.