The Global Arms Industry Has Thrived Amid Worldwide Pandemic Devastation

By Thalif Deen, Inter Press Service

The 21-month long pandemic, which began with the outbreak of the deadly corona virus back in March 2020, ravaged hundreds and thousands of businesses and industries resulting either in widespread losses, closures or bankruptcies.

But one of the few industries that survived and prospered in 2020 was the multi-billion-dollar global arms industry led by the United States.

A new report released December 6 by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says sales of arms and military services by the industry’s 100 largest companies totalled a staggering $531 billion in 2020—an increase of 1.3 per cent in real terms compared with the previous year.

Automatic weapons for sale at an arms industry show
Photo by locotenent Bogdan Rădulescu

The arms sales of the Top 100 arms companies in 2020 were 17 per cent higher than in 2015—the first year for which SIPRI included data on Chinese firms. This marked the sixth consecutive year of growth in arms sales by the Top 100.

Arms sales increased even as the global economy contracted by 3.1 per cent during the first year of the pandemic.

According to SIPRI, the United States once again hosted the highest number of companies ranked in the Top 100.

Together, the arms sales of the 41 US companies amounted to $285 billion—an increase of 1.9 per cent compared with 2019—and accounted for 54 per cent of the Top 100’s total arms sales.

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