The United States is continuing to lead the world’s arms trade, controlling almost 42% of the market, according to a recent congressional report.

The Congressional Research Service’s annual survey of international arms sales places the US as first in international arms transfer agreements for 2006, with a value of $16.9bn and a 41.9% market share.

Russia’s sales increased by $1.2bn, with a total of $8.7bn – 21.6% of the market.

Despite some countries enjoying growth, the overall volume of weapons trade worldwide has shrunk by almost 13%, declining from $46.3bn in 2005 to $40.3bn last year news agency AFP reports.

France, Britain, Germany and Italy saw the collective value of their arms agreements with developing nations drop by half – from $10.9bn in 2005 to $5.5bn in 2006.

By Elizabeth Clifford-Marsh