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CSEF - Center for Studies in Economics and Finance

How the arms trade is used to secure access to oil

4 May
by Vincenzo Bove, Claudio Deiana, Roberto Nisticò, The Conversation

UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia increased by 175% in the first nine months of 2017 according to an investigation by the Campaign Against Arms Trade. Similarly, France and the US are major exporters of arms to the oil-rich Gulf state – in 2017 alone, they were worth around US$2.6 billion.
Selling weapons is a lucrative business. As well as the money to be made, the arms trade is also a barometer of the quality of relationships between states and it creates an interdependence that gives current and future recipient governments incentives to cooperate with arms suppliers.
Oil dependency is another reason. Sometimes this idea is disregarded as a conspiracy theory, but colleagues Claudio Deiana, Roberto Nisticò and I recently researched the extent to which oil-dependent countries transfer arms to oil-rich countries. It turns out it’s a lot.
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