For the first time since the mid-1990s, sales of the 100 biggest arms dealers — excluding China — declined in 2011 as the economic crisis prompted budget cuts, a Stockholm-based think tank said yesterday.
The 100 companies’ total sales declined, including inflation, by 5 percent from the previous year, the first time a drop has been registered since 1994, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said.
Even excluding inflation, the total fell to US$410 billion from 412 billion euros (US$551 billion at present exchange rates) in 2010.
“Austerity policies and proposed and actual decreases in military expenditure as well as postponements in weapons program procurement affected overall arms sales in North America and Western Europe,” SIPRI said in a statement.
Troop drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan and sanctions on arms transfers to Libya also played a role in the decline, it added.
Proposed austerity measures “have led some companies to pursue military specialization, while others have downsized or diversified into adjacent markets” such as security and in particular cybersecurity, the think tank said.
The SIPRI figures do not include China due to a lack of reliable data.
Chinese companies supply a military that enjoys the world’s second-biggest budget.
The list of top 100 arms-producing companies is dominated by US and European firms, which respectively hold 60 and 29 percent of the global market and together hold the top 17 spots on the list.