Washington: Global arms sales dropped sharply last year as the world's governments struggled in the economic downturn, according to a new study, a news paper reported.

The total value of all arms transfer agreements in 2010 was USD 40.4 billion, a decline of 38 percent from USD 65.2 billion in 2009 and the lowest total since 2003, according to the report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, a division of the US Library of Congress.

In 2010, India ranked first among all developing nations weapons purchasers, concluding USD 5.8 billion in weapons deals. Taiwan ranked second with USD 2.7 billion in such agreements and Saudi Arabia ranked third with USD 2.2 billion.

Other major buyers were Egypt, Israel, Algeria, Syria, South Korea, Singapore and Jordan.

'Worldwide weapons sales declined generally in 2010 in response to the constraints created by the tenuous state of the global economy,' wrote Richard F. Grimmett, a security specialist and author of the report.

'In view of budget difficulties faced by many purchasing nations, they chose to defer or limit the purchase of new major weapons systems,' he wrote. 'Some nations chose to limit their buying to upgrades of existing systems or to training and support services.'

The US ranked first in worldwide arms sales in 2010, with USD 21.3 billion or 52.7 percent of these sales, a drop from USD 22.6 billion in 2009. In second place was Russia, with USD 7.8 billion or 19.3 percent of the market, a decline from USD 12.8 billion in 2009.

The report found that the value of all arms transfer deals with developing nations in 2010 was nearly USD 30.7 billion. This was a decline from USD 45.1 billion in 2009.