Britain aims to boost arms sales

Christopher Bellamy reports on tougher competition in a shrinking market

Britain is planning to increase to 22 per cent its share of the total world arms trade by the end of the century, capitalising on the disintegration of the former Soviet Union. It wants to maintain its arms exports at their present value of about pounds 5bn a year through its increasing share of a shrinking market.

The United States, Britain and France are the three main arms exporters in the world, accounting for 90 per cent of all the new defence equipment, although Charles Masefield, the head of the Defence Export Sales Organisation does not believe that position will be sustained. Russia has committed itself to regaining some of the sales of the former Soviet Union, and east Asian countries, particularly Japan, may soon have the potential to challenge the traditional arms exporters.

The British and French arms industries are each about a third of that of the US, so their increased collaboration could have an impact on US exports. So could Britain joining the Franco-German arms agency, as proposed by the Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Portillo, last week.

In some areas, the Europeans are gaining ground against the US. Although the US can produce more advanced armaments more cheaply, it is losing out because it will not allow countries in the Middle East and the Pacific rim - the two main arms-purchasing areas - to have the most up-to-date equipment, whereas Britain and France will.

But the purchase of ready-made arms is being supplanted by the sale of know-how and "dual use" technologies which can be applied to military or civilian products. The Europeans are also more willing to transfer technology and let other countries produce their designs under licence. The US arms industry employs about 800,000 people directly and a similar number indirectly. Britain and France each employ 230,000 directly and the same number indirectly. The shares of the global arms market are comparable: between 1990 and 1994 the US received export orders totalling $116bn (pounds 77bn) as against $40bn for the UK and $39bn for France. Britain provides 19 per cent of the world's arms exports. Its target is 22 per cent by 2000. Russia recently set itself a target of reviving arms exports to $5bn a year.

Mr Masefield says the Middle East will remain the largest market for Western arms for the next five to 10 years. Meanwhile, the Asia-Pacific region will increase in importance. This has led to concern that there could be trouble in a region undergoing rapid industrial growth which could pay for an unrestricted arms build up, and where there are many flash points but no regional security structures comparable with those in Europe.

According to a new study by the Saferworld foundation on the transfer of arms and military technology to east Asia, the "new-found wealth and buoyant trade" in the area has placed a stress on maritime forces to patrol supply routes and protect natural resources. A feature of the arms market on the Pacific rim is the role of technology transfer in building up the economies in general and defence industries in particular.

Most arms sales revenue does not come not from the sale of equipment but from contracts to maintain and support it, Mr Masefield said. For this reason, purchasers are expected to be reluctant to buy Russian arms. After sales service is seen as unreliable because of the country's instability.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

Technical Sales Manager

£45000 - £53000 Per Annum plus bonus plus package: The Green Recruitment Compa...

Humanities Teacher

£110 - £135 per day + Competitive Rates: Randstad Education Maidstone: Outstan...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor