Key drivers of the arms trade

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Global defence spending and the associated procurement of arms has been on a general upward trajectory in recent decades The key drivers of the trade in international arms include: the technological imperative (a key independent variable); the presence of actual or potential interstate conflict due to significant tensions between states and the presence of territorial disputes; the process of globalisation, which has driven global commerce and enhanced the importance of the sea, thus leading to a greater emphasis on maritime security; Asia’s dramatic economic growth in recent decades which has enabled some states in the region to procure expensive, state-of-the-art weapons systems; the perceived need for defence self-reliance which has led to the proliferation of local defence industries around the world; rising great powers which have joined traditional great powers in acquiring the expensive symbols of power such as large aircraft carriers and nuclear ballistic missile submarines; the impact of corruption, which is probably a much more significant factor than has been previously acknowledged; and the requirements for internal security which generates its own demand for weapons, albeit mostly of the Small and Light Weapons variety. These myriad and complex mix of factors explain the current international arms trade.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on the Arms Trade
EditorsAndrew T. H. Tan
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9781789900996
ISBN (Print)9781789900989
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Dec 2020


  • international arms trade defence spending, technological imperative, Asia, defence industries, weapons systems
  • defence spending
  • technological imperative
  • Asia
  • defence industries
  • weapons systems


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