India has been the largest buyer of arms from the United States in 2004, beating even China, which has bought the most arms over the last four years, a Congressional Research Service report has said.
The United States is the largest supplier of weapons to developing nations, delivering more than $9.6 billion in arms to Near East and Asian countries last year.
The U.S. sales to the developing countries helped boost worldwide weapons sales to the highest level since 2000, a congressional study says.
The total worldwide value of all agreements to sell arms last year was close to $37 billion, and nearly 59 percent of the agreements were to sell weapons to developing nations, according to the report.
The weapons being sold range from ammunition to tanks, combat aircraft, missiles and submarines.
As economic pressures led to a worldwide decline in weapons orders-- from about $42 billion in 2000 to $37 billion last year-- competition is forcing the US and European countries to forge agreements to develop weapons jointly.
The CRS report said worldwide arms deliveries to developing nations rose from $20.8 billion in 2003, to $22.5 billion last year.
Agreements to sell weapons, meanwhile, shot up from $15.1 billion to nearly $21.8 billion last year.
China, Egypt and India were the heaviest buyers of the weapons.
Last year, for example, the US completed agreements to sell helicopters and other weapons to Egypt, radar systems to Taiwan, helicopters to Brazil and Israel and other weapons systems to Oman and Pakistan.
Developing countries are the weapons' primary buyers. And the U.S. has been the most active seller for the past eight years, resulting mainly from agreements made in the aftermath of the first Gulf War. The U.S. was responsible for more than 42 percent of the deliveries to developing nations in 2004.
Russia, which ranks second, sells mostly to China and India, as well as a number of smaller, poorer countries.