Arms sales reached over €560 billion in 2021

Arms sales reached over €560 billion in 2021
Credit: Gerard Gaudin/Belga.

In 2021, €562 billion worth of arms were sold to armed forces across the world, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). While representing a 1.9% increase from 2020, the institute indicated that this low growth was indicative of the stunted growth in the industry due to worsening supply issues.

On Monday, the SIPRI, which offers information on armed conflicts and the global weapons trade, unveiled the findings of their last report, which surveyed the world's 100 largest arms companies to forecast the state of arms sales in 2021.

As a result, they found that €562 billion worth of weapons and equipment were sold to the military last year. While representing a 1.9% increase in 2020, this growth had been stunted due to supply chain issues caused by the pandemic.

As a consequence of the pandemic, the global supply chain has undergone a crisis, which has spread into the arms trade because of both labour shortages and the slowing down of raw material supply.

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Furthermore, the institute has indicated that the supply of weapons is expected to worsen in the coming year due to the war in Ukraine, which Nan Tian, a researcher and co-author of the report, has attributed to two factors. 

Firstly, the loss of Russia as a trade partner has impacted the industry's supply chain, due to its role as a major supplier of raw materials used in arms production.

Secondly, arms companies have also been faced with increasing demand by countries seeking to replenish their weapon stocks – both to supply to Ukraine or to ensure their own security in the face of rising global tensions.

International disparities

Another key finding revealed by the report was the difference in sales between countries and continents.

For example, American companies, responsible for over half of all arms sales in the world, sold €283 billion worth of weapons in 2021. According to the SIPRI's report, this meant that the United States was the only region to register a decline in sales compared to 2020.

In comparison, China's eight largest arms companies sold €103 billion worth of arms in 2021, a 6.3% increase on the previous year, while European companies sold 4.2% more arms in 2021, for a total of €116 billion.

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