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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
fashion
News
videoJapanese prepare for the afterlife by testing out coffins
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford attends Blade Runner at Target Presents AFI's Night at the Movies at ArcLight Cinemas on 24 April, 2013 in Hollywood, California
film... but Ridley Scott won't direct
Sport
Hughes is hit by a bouncer from Sean Abbott
cricketStephen Brenkley on batsman's tragic flaw that led to critical injury
Sport
Dejected England players applaud the fans following their team's 3-0 defeat
football

News
people

Actress isn't a fan of Ed Miliband

News
The Bounceway, designed by Architecture for Humanity
newsLondon to add 'The Bounceway' to commuting options
Life and Style
Stefan Gates with some mince flies
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rooney Mara plays a white Tiger Lily in forthcoming film Pan
filmFirst look at Rooney Mara in Pan
Life and Style
Customers browse through Vinyl Junkies record shop in Berwick Street, Soho, London
tech
Life and Style
health

Do you qualify – and how do you get it?

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

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - West Yorkshire - Ashdown Group - FTC 2017

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car allowance (£5.5k)+ benefits: Ashdown Group: Ma...

Opilio Recruitment: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£15k - 18k per year + Benefits & OTE: Opilio Recruitment: Digital Media, Mob...

Recruitment Genius: Sales People & Team Managers - UK Wide

£67200 - £96000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Self-employed Sales People and ...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - IT Outsourcing - £70,000 OTE

£30000 - £40000 per annum + £70,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Reading , Sou...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital