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Small arms trade grows to $8.5 billion a year: Survey

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United Nations: 

Legal trade in small arms has grown to at least $8.5 billion a year and if the illict trade was added it would come to more than $10 billion, a weapons research group said on Monday.

The Small Arms Survey had estimated the global trade in small arms, munitions and spare parts at more than $4 billion four years ago.

The research group said the market had grown -- because of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere -- and it also has more accurate information as European countries and the United States are more transparent about deals.

The Small Arms Survey 2012 said the countries which export more than $100 million of small arms were the United States, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Austria, Japan, Switzerland, Russia, France, South Korea, Belgium and Spain. The top importers with trade of at least $100 million were the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Canada, Germany and France, the survey found.

Small Arms Survey's Eric Berman told a press conference that legal trading in arms is bigger than the illegal sector "although the illicit trade may do more damage or be more
problematic."

"We can clearly say that the two combined would be over $10 billion," he added.

Berman said that munitions accounted almost half the annual figure.

The annual survey said that the market growth was explained by Americans buying more guns and by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Small Arms Survey report said that Switzerland, Britain and Romania are the most transparent trading countries and highlighting growing openness by many western countries.

But it added that trade in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East "remains opaque" and "huge gaps" remain in reporting.

"Of particular concern is the lack of information on possible exports to unstable or abusive regimes from China and the Russian Federation, neither of which releases data on exports of pistols, military firearms, light weapons, or light weapons ammunition," said the survey.

"Arms transfers from Iran and North Korea and re-exports from states with large surplus stockpiles, such as Angola, are also poorly understood," it added.

Iran, North Korea and United Arab Emirates came at the bottom of the survey's transparency index. The United States was classed 14th in the 52 countries assessed.

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