US foreign military sales totalled to $55.66 billion in 2018, a 33 per cent increase compared to the nearly $42 billion in weapons sold in 2017, the Defence Cooperation Agency announced. According to the announcement on Wednesday, is the highest annual total for military sales to foreign governments since 2012 when the US conducted upwards of $69 billion in arms deals with allies and partners around the world, reports CNN.
The upward trend is due, in part, to the administration’s push to relax restrictions on foreign military sales. Though critics suggest human rights concerns are being relegated in the rush to increase sales. Since taking office, President Donald Trump has demonstrated an insatiable appetite for selling American weaponry abroad — at times using face-to-face meetings with foreign leaders to make a personal sales pitch.
Trump signed a nearly $110 billion defence deal with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in May 2017 in Riyadh, on what was his first stop abroad as President. In the same month, the US government reauthorised the export of Paveway munitions to Saudi Arabia, ending former President Barack Obama’s December 2016 ban.
In April, the administration rolled out its “Buy American” plan to lift — what it views — as self-imposed policy restrictions that limit potential opportunities for business.
“These policy changes advance US national security and foreign policy because they make FMS more attractive in a very competitive market,” DSCA Director LTG Charles W. Hooper said in a statement on Wednesday. “The US not only sells the world’s most state-of-the-art defence systems, but we also strengthen our alliances and attract new partners through enduring strategic and defence partnership,” he added.