Stockholm (dpa) – Global spending on arms and armaments has continued to rise over the past year. The international peace research institute Sipri estimated the total turnover of the 25 largest international arms companies in 2019 at 361 billion dollars (almost 300 billion euros).
That is 8.5 percent more than a year earlier. The report was published in Stockholm on Monday. The most important traders by far are the United States. The twelve US companies in the ranking account for 61 percent of global sales. The five largest weapons manufacturers Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and General Dynamics alone posted sales of 166 billion dollars (136 billion euros).
China follows in second place in the global arms trade with 16 percent. The four Chinese companies listed by Sipri increased their sales by 4.8 percent within a year. Sipri researcher Nan Tian explained: “Chinese arms companies are benefiting from military modernization programs for the People’s Liberation Army.” It is mainly sold domestically.
In third place in the world ranking is Russia with a share of 3.9 percent. Foreign exports for Russian arms manufacturers are limited by sanctions stemming from the conflict in Ukraine and the occupation of Crimea. The revenues of the two listed companies decreased in total by 634 million US dollars (522 million euros). A third Russian producer dropped out of the top 25.
“Russia is a very strong player and has a strong arms industry,” said Lucie Béraud-Sudreau, head of the Sipri research program on arms trade and military spending. However, the modernization of the army has slowed down due to the economic situation. “Of course that means a decrease in sales for the Russian arms industry because the main customer, the Russian government, orders less.”
The environmental protection organization Greenpeace criticized the increase in arms expenditure and called for a “radical rethink”. “Rarely has an undesirable development been so clearly demonstrated: hundreds of millions of people around the world are threatened by the corona pandemic, millions are infected and countless people lack adequate medical care,” said Greenpeace disarmament expert Alexander Lurz of the German news agency. The Sipri figures showed “where scarce money should not flow: further and further into the pockets of the international arms industry.”
The six largest Western European companies together accounted for 18 percent. German companies are not in the top 25. The largest German defense company Rheinmetall increased its turnover by 4 percent to 3.9 billion dollars (3.2 billion euros).
Béraud-Sudreau said the increase in arms spending was also a reflection of tensions in international politics. This development has been observed since Russia occupied the Crimean peninsula in 2014. After US President Donald Trump, who has now been voted out, took up residence in the White House in 2016, things got stronger.