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UK becomes biggest weapons exporter...

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...Shame that the article does not remind readers of more details around the alleged BAE corruption in their arms trade with the Saudis: still unresolved as Blair's adminsitration forced to drop the inquiry beacuse of security reasons.

By Stephen Fidler, Defence and Security Editor
Financial Times ( Protected content )
Published: June Protected content | Last updated: June Protected content

Britain became the world’s largest arms exporter last year, according to government figures released on Tuesday, overtaking the US, which normally occupies the top slot.

The UK won £10bn of new defence orders in Protected content overseas, giving it a 33 per cent share of the world export market, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Defence and Security Organisation, set up to promote Britain’s defence exports. Export orders totalled £5.5bn in Protected content .
The Protected content were helped by a large order from Saudi Arabia for Typhoon aircraft, valued initially at £4.3bn. They were further aided by orders from Oman and Trinidad and Tobago for offshore patrol vessels. Orders from North America were also significant – the US imported more weapons from the UK than from any other country, the DSO said.

UK Trade and Investment, the department of which the DSO is a part, could not immediately supply data for other countries in Protected content detailed year-on-year comparisons. However, the figures reflect arms orders – which can cluster in particular years and may or may not be completed – rather than arms deliveries, a more precise measure of exports.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which collates data on arms deliveries, the UK was the sixth largest supplier of defence equipment in Protected content after the US, Russia, Germany, France and the Netherlands. Over a five-year period it was the fifth largest.

But according to the DSO figures, last year’s orders mean the UK has been the second largest exporter of arms over the previous five years, after the US. Cumulative exports from the US were $63bn (£32bn), the UK $53bn, Russia $33bn, France $17bn, and Germany and Israel with $9bn each.

Saudi Arabia was the largest importer over the period – $31bn, followed by India with $18bn and the US $17bn. Three countries – Australia ($11bn), Canada ($10bn) and Pakistan ($6bn) – moved up the import rankings, it said.

Lord Jones, trade and investment minister, said: “As demonstrated by this outstanding export performance, the UK has a first class defence industry with some of the world’s most technologically sophisticated companies.”

Ian Godden, chief executive of the Society of British Aerospace Companies, said: “We are proud that the UK defence industry remains a world leader. This success is built on investment made in the Protected content and, if we are to continue to reap these economic benefits in the future, this investment will need to be maintained.”

The DSO is the successor to the Defence Export Services Organisation, which was moved by the government out of the Ministry of Defence last year following alleged arms export scandals. Its new head, Richard Paniguian, is a former senior BP executive who had been involved in developing a code of conduct for extractive industries.