Global arms sales rise for first time since 2010

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South Korea's arms industry accounted for 2.2 percent of the global top 100 producers' sales in 2016, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a report listing the world's "top 100" military services. Although the researchers do not consider sales by Chinese companies due to lack of data, they note in the report that China's military spending "has increased nearly threefold between 2002 and 2016", and estimate that nine or 10 Chinese companies likely would be included in the top 100 list-with four to six in the top 20-if the data were publicly available.

Global arms sales have risen for the first time in more than five years, as rising geopolitical tensions fuel a surge in defence spending. That decline followed an increase of 60% over the period 2002-2010. There were overall decreases in the arms sales of Trans-European, French and Italian companies, while companies in the United Kingdom and Germany recorded overall increases. Sales by USA companies grew by four percent previous year, totaling more than $217 billion. In the first half of 2018, SIPRI will release its worldwide arms transfers data (details of all worldwide sales, transfers and gifts of major weapons in 2017) as well as its world military expenditure data (comprehensive information on global, regional and national trends in military spending).

'Germany's 6.6 per cent increase in arms sales for 2016 is mainly due to the growth in sales of armoured vehicle producer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (12.8 per cent) and land systems producer Rheinmetall (13.3 per cent),' says SIPRI Senior Researcher Pieter Wezeman.

The UK's decision to withdraw from the European Union did not seem to have an impact on the arms sales of British companies, which rose by 2.0 per cent in 2016.

Relatively rich western European companies reported stable arms sales while Russian Federation showed declining growth.

According to the report, geopolitical tensions in the South China Sea, West Asia, and the Indian sub-continent has fuelled a rise in arms imports in West Asia and the Asia-Oceania, with the two regions contributing to 72 percent of all arms imports during 2012-2016 as compared to 2007-2011. Besides the usual dominance by companies in United States and Europe, South Korea has emerged as the dark horse that is slowly cementing its position as one of the "established players" in global arms sales. It found that South Korea dominated the "emerging producers" category.

Japan reported negative increase of -6.4 per cent. Decline in Japan's arms sale volume is chiefly attributed to sharp falls in sales of Mitsubishi Heavy, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation. Interestingly, there is no specific mention of China in the SIPRI report.