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Arms sale around world spikes despite COVID-19 pandemic



In spite of the global economy undergoing a 3.1 per cent contraction in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic, arms sales actually rose around the world during the same period.

This is according to figures released on Monday.

The world’s 100 leading arms companies sold weapons and military services worth 531 billion dollars in 2020, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), marking a 1.3 per cent increase in real terms on 2019 figures and representing the sixth consecutive year of growth.

The United States continued to lead the world in both arms production and arms sales, with U.S. weapons manufacturers accounting for 41 of the top 100 arms firms globally.

Between them, their arms sales amounted to 285 billion dollars in 2020 a 1.9 per cent year-on-year increase.

Geopolitical rival China, by contrast, had just five arms producers in the top 100 firms in globally, spite of its rapid militarisation and massive investment in the sector.

Nonetheless, its annual arms sales grew by 1.5 per cent last year, taking in an estimated of  66.8 billion dollars in sales during 2020.

“In recent years, Chinese arms companies have benefited from the country’s military modernisation programmes,’’ said SIPRI researcher Nan Tian.

“They have become some of the most advanced military technology producers in the world.’’

Britain, the third-largest arms producer globally, saw a 6.2 per cent rise in arms sales in 2020, bringing in a total of 37.5 billion dollars, with sales by BAE Systems increasing by 6.6 per cent alone.

“The industry giants were largely shielded by sustained government demand for military goods and services,’’ said Alexandra Marksteiner, a researcher at SIPRI.

“In much of the world, military spending grew and some governments even accelerated payments to the arms industry in order to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.’’

One country did continue its downward trend in 2020, however: Russia marked its third consecutive year of decline in arms sales, from 28.2 billion dollars in revenue in 2019 to 26.4 billion dollars in 2020, a 6.5 per cent fall.


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