Swedish think tank says the world’s 100 largest arms companies are largely protected from the effects of the pandemic.
Sales of arms and military services by the world’s 100 largest arms companies reached a record $ 531 billion in 2020, an increase of 1.3 percent in real terms compared to the previous year, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute ( SIPRI).
The Swedish think tank said 2020 was the sixth consecutive year of sales growth by the top 100 firms, and came even when the world economy shrank. Overall sales were 17 percent higher than in 2015 when it first included data on Chinese firms.
“The industry giants are largely protected by sustained government demand for military goods and services,” Alexandra Marksteiner, a researcher at the SIPRI Military Expenditure and Arms Production Program, said in a statement on Monday. “In a large part of the world, military spending has grown and some governments have even accelerated payments to the arms industry to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.”
Firms in the United States still dominate the industry, with total sales of $ 285 billion from 41 companies accounting for about 54 percent of all arms sales among the 100 largest companies. The top five companies in the rankings since 2018 are all based in the US, SIPRI said.
Arms sales from the top Chinese firms were estimated at $ 66.8 billion in 2020, 1.5 percent higher than in 2019.
Chinese firms accounted for 13 per cent of the Top 100 arms sales total, ahead of the UK, which had the third largest share.
“In recent years, Chinese arms companies have benefited from the country’s military modernization programs and focus on military-civilian merger, ”Says Nan Tian, SIPRI senior researcher. “They have become one of the most advanced military technology manufacturers in the world.”
The 26 European arms companies in the Top 100 collectively account for 21 percent of total arms sales, or $ 109 billion, the think tank said.
The seven UK companies recorded arms sales of $ 37.5 billion in 2020, 6.2 percent higher compared to 2019. Arms sales by BAE Systems – the only European firm in the top 10 – increased by 6.6 percent to $ 24 billion.
Sales by French companies, meanwhile, fell by 7.7 percent amid a drop in deliveries of Rafale fighter jets by Dassault, according to the brainstorm.
Weapons manufacturer Thales also dropped sales by 5.8 percent, blaming pandemic-induced disruptions. Other companies also reported supply chain outages and delayed deliveries.
Russian arms sales have meanwhile fallen for the third year in a row, SIPRI said.
The total sales of the nine Russian companies ranked in the Top 100 decreased from $ 28.2 billion in 2019 to $ 26.4 billion in 2020, with Russian firms making up 5 percent of the Top 100 arms sales total.
Other countries with arms firms in the Top 100 included Israel, Japan, India and South Korea. Sales at the four South Korean firms grew by 4.6 percent from 2019 to $ 6.5 billion, the brainstorm said