SIPRI: Weapons Sales Up Again Worldwide

SIPRI: Weapons Sales Up Again WorldwideSIPRI: Weapons Sales Up Again Worldwide

The global trade in arms and military services increased again in 2016, for the first time in five years. It was up 1.9% on the previous year — and 38% compared to 2002.

The new figures are from the latest report on the international arms industry by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). It says that in 2016 the world’s 100 biggest armaments groups sold $374.8 billion of weapons and weapons systems, DW reported.

Particularly in the United States, armaments groups are producing and selling more weapons. According to the report, sales from US firms rose 4% in 2016, totaling $217.2 billion. This was not only because of the US’ own military deployments abroad: The figure was also boosted by the purchase of large weapons systems by other countries.

The US group Lockheed Martin —the biggest weapons producer worldwide— did lucrative business selling its new F-35 to countries like Britain, Italy and Norway. Its biggest customer, though, is the United States Air Force.

Big American players like Lockheed Martin make up the majority of the top 100 armaments groups researched by SIPRI’s experts. Once again, the report clearly shows that the majority of arms come from American companies —a total of 57.9% of all global arms sales. Western Europe takes second place in the list of the most important suppliers of arms, followed by Russia with 7.1% of arms sales around the world.

  Crises Benefit Arms Trade

The picture is more mixed in the western European countries. While French and Italian firms are selling fewer arms, German and British groups —despite Brexit— increased their turnover. The German tank manufacturer Krauss-Maffei, for example, and Rheinmetall, which makes military vehicles, profited from the demand for their products in Europe, the Middle East and South-East Asia.

“Nonetheless, it’s very difficult to make a direct connection between large arms purchases and ongoing wars. But of course there are links: There’s a greater demand for certain types of weapons — munitions, missiles or ground vehicles, for example,” says Aude Fleurant, director of the arms and military expenditure program at SIPRI. The rise in arms sales around the world is also a response to smoldering conflicts, she adds. “We observe that in some regions the perceived threat is increasing.”

  South Korea Arming Itself

South Korea is one example of this. In 2016 South Korean firms reported huge 20.6% increase in arms sales. “That quite clearly has to do with the security situation in the region,” Fleurant says. South Korea feels seriously threatened by the nuclear provocations of its neighbor North Korea — and is increasing its military expenditure in response. South Korean arms manufacturers, who mainly sell to their country’s defense ministry, are profiting from this.

The SIPRI researchers believe China may also be a top weapons manufacturer. The country does not, however, appear in their statistics, because the experts have no reliable data on the Chinese arms trade. “But we assume that Chinese armaments groups are among the top 20 biggest companies in the world,” says Fleurant.


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