The Strategist

SIPRI: US and Western Europe sell four fifths of all weapons in the world

12/07/2016 - 14:41

According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the United States and Western Europe are selling four fifths of weapons that make companies included in Top 100. Compared to 2014, sales of arms and military services of the largest corporations in the world fell by 0.6%, says the organization’s paper.

plaits via flickr
plaits via flickr
"In 2015, sales of Top 100 largest defense companies in the world grew 37% bigger than in 2002. This is a significant increase, the more so despite the fact that sales were down in the last four or five years. The maximum was in 2010. Now, the weaker of recent years is slowly disappearing. Perhaps, this is a breaking point in falling sales trend observed since 2010," - said Director of the Arms and Military Expenditure Programme Aude Fleurant.

"The biggest decline occurred among US firms. This applies both to their number in the first hundred, and sales volume. Sales of American military concerns decreased by 2.9%. This is one of reasons for general decline in Top 100 largest companies, as 39 American firms account for 56% of turnover in the rating. This affects the overall result", - said Fleurant. 

"As for European companies in 2015, they, in contrast, made a headway, especially French. Britons have changed downward trend of recent years. German gunsmiths continued to grow, and overall it smoothed decline in the United States. Unambiguous growth was also recorded in some developing countries, particularly in South Korea. Over the past year, arms sales there rose by more than 30%", - added SIPRI’s Director of the Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

"Awareness of threatening situation with South Korea is a serious reason for development of large-scale and comprehensive weapons program. This is also done to stabilize the arms production, which has been created from the 1970s with help of the United States and Europe. Accordingly, South Korea is actively trying to buy weapons of its own production. The second reason lies in the fact that South Korea has achieved some success in the international arms market in recent years," - Fleurant said.

"We have kept an eye on China for several years. Our main difficulty there is lack of transparency in financial statements of large Chinese weapons conglomerates. These conglomerates produce both military and civil goods, but often do not disclose indicators for these sectors in their reports. We do not know to whom they sell, do not know prices of their products when they sell them domestically. Methodological difficulties are so voluminous that it would not be possible the figures with in other countries, if we included them in our report. We assume that many Chinese enterprises would have been put in the top 100, perhaps even in the Top 25. However, the data that we have is not reliable enough to let Chinese firms in the top hundred, "- commented Fleurant. 
"The United States and Western Europe have very large and detailed weapon industries. In the US, it is legacy of the Second World War. During the Cold War, as well as after it, these industries have expanded even more. After the Second World War, Western Europe, too, has newly armed itself, especially after the NATO was established. During the Cold War, France, England, Italy, Spain and Germany have created defense companies to be independent in procurement of weapons. This position persisted after the end of the Cold War, despite the fact that the situation has changed dramatically, "- said SIPRI’s Director of the Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

"Some want to maintain their ability to produce arms - in all sectors, or at least most of them. However, it is always more difficult for Western Europe as supporting the defense industry on an ongoing basis is expensive. Europeans export arms to maintain production capacity in operation, "- said Fleurant.