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Despite wars across the globe - international arm sales fall by five percent

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 18th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Sales of traditional weapons used by the world's government have experienced a slump for the first time in decades. In response, those who previously manufactured tanks, weapons and artillery are concentrating on increasing their cyber-security products.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In spite of wars raging simultaneously across the globe, arms sales by the 100 biggest weapons makers fell for the first time since the mid-1990s. Overall, worldwide economies slowed and purchases of equipment were reduced, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said.

The end of the U.S. war in Iraq, and the winding down of the Afghanistan effort also pushed down sales, which amounted to $410 billion last year, a five percent drop 2010.

Compiling the list since 1989, the institute does not include Chinese-based firms due to a lack of available data.

"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," the institute said in a statement.

"The draw downs in Iraq and Afghanistan and the sanctions on arms transfers to Libya also played a role."

Susan Jackson, a researcher at the institute, said spending fell for the first time since the mid-1990s, when defense spending was falling after the Cold War.

Sales growth had already slowed in 2010, to one to eight percent in 2009, as the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq held back demand.

Of the firms monitored by the group in 2011, 74 were based in the U.S. and Western Europe, generating 90 percent of the sales, roughly unchanged from 2010.

The top spots were little changed from 2010 with U.S. firm Lockheed Martin still the biggest, with $36.3 billion in sales. Boeing placed second, with $31.8 billion in sales, followed by British BAE Systems with $29.1 billion.

The institute said a strong recent trend among big arms makers was diversification into cyber-security. The protection of computers and networks against intrusions and attacks has become of heightened global interest. Public spending in this area remained a privileged area in Western countries despite budget austerity.

"Cyber-security has become a top national security issue and there has been a lot of discussion about that over the last years," a cyber-security at the institute Vincent Boulanin said.

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