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UK biggest in global arms trade

A British Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon flies at low-level at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, December 17, 2004. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain was the world’s biggest arms seller last year, accounting for a third of global arms exports, the government’s trade promotion organisation said on Tuesday.

UK Trade and Investment said arms exporters had added $19 billion (9.7 billion pounds) in new business last year, giving them a larger share of global arms exports than the United States.

“As demonstrated by this outstanding export performance, the UK has a first class defence industry, with some of the world’s most technologically sophisticated companies,” the government’s minister for trade and investment, Digby Jones, said.

UKTI said the figures were boosted by orders for Eurofighter Typhoon jets from Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest arms buyer, which imported $31 billion in weapons over the last five years.

The United States still tops the world for the last five years with $63 billion in total arms exports. Britain was second with $53 billion and Russia third with $33 billion, it said.

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