Global arms industry continues to boom

Posted on 18 Mar 2015 by Michael Cruickshank

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has released a new report showing that the global arms industry continues to grow.

Over the 2010-2014 period, the total volume of arms exported increased 14% on the previous 5 years.

The global arms industry continues to be dominated by the United States, Russia, China, Germany and France who together now make up 74% of all global arms sales.

The US cemented its position as the number one player in the arms trade, with its share increasing from 29% in 2005-2009 to 31% in 2010-2014. Russia has also seen significant increases in sales, increasing from 22% of the global share to 27% over the same period.

Western European countries however have continued to reduce the volume of their arms sales, with Germany dropping from 11% of the global trade, to a mere 5%. This has allowed China to take the position of the third largest arms exporter in the world.

On the receiving end, the 5 largest importers of arms were India, Saudi Arabia, China, the UAE and Pakistan, accounting for 33% of the global total.

India, which unlike China does not have a large local arms industry, imported the largest amount of weapons globally. In 2010-2014 it imported 15% of all arms sold, the majority of which came from Russia.

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have massively increased their arms imports, with the biggest suppliers being western countries such as the US and UK.

Highest Level Since Cold War

The new report shows that the global arms trade is now at the highest level since the most critical period of the Cold War, in the early 1980s.

The Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle demonstrator Taranis - the most advanced aircraft ever built by British engineers.
The Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle demonstrator Taranis – the most advanced aircraft ever built by British engineers.

While the total sales volume is still only 2/3 of what is was during this peak, the continuing increase over the last 5 years reflects increasing instability in the world, particularly in Asia and the Middle East.

An arms race has emerged between Iran and the Gulf States, prompting the latter to buy up big on foreign arms, while a similar situation between India and Pakistan has prompted both sides to buy huge amounts of foreign weapons systems.

Additionally, new high tech systems such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and other military robots have opened up new areas for growth within the arms industry.