Defence: UK arms industry captures quarter of global market

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Britain's arms industry captured a quarter of the world defence market with record sales of more than pounds 5bn in 1996, it was announced yesterday. The defence procurement minister, James Arbuthnot, described the announcement as a "remarkable achievement for British industry" boosting the country's share of the world market to an all-time record 25 per cent from 16 per cent in 1994 and 19 per cent in 1995.

The outlook for 1997 is equally good following the successful signing of a defence pact with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East.

The UAE deal alone has opened the door for companies such as British Aerospace, GEC-Marconi and the shipbuilder Vosper Thornycroft to potential sales of more than pounds 2.5bn. In the longer-term Britain sees the UAE as a potential customer for the four- nation Eurofighter.

Yesterday's figures were said to be good news for the 360,000 people who rely directly or indirectly on the defence industry for employment.