STOCKHOLM: Sales of arms and military services grew in 2021, researchers said on Monday, but were limited by worldwide supply issues related to the pandemic, with the war in Ukraine increasing demand while worsening supply difficulties.

The top 100 arms companies sold weapons and related services totalling $592 billion in 2021, 1.9-percent more than the year before, said the latest report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

However the growth was severely impacted by widespread supply chain issues. “The lasting impact of the pandemic is really starting to show in arms companies,” Nan Tian, a senior researcher at SIPRI, said.

Disruptions from both labour shortages and difficulties in sourcing raw materials were “slowing down the companies’ ability to produce weapons systems and deliver them on time.

“So what we see really is a potentially slower increase to what many would have expected in arms sales in 2021,” Tian said. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is also expected to worsen supply chain issues, in part “because Russia is a major supplier of raw materials used in arms production”, said the report’s authors. But the war has at the same time increased demand.

“Definitely demand will increase in the coming years,” Tian said. By how much was at the same time harder to gauge, Tian said pointing to two factors that would impact demand. Firstly, countries that have sent weapons to Ukraine to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars will be looking to replenish stockpiles.

Secondly, the worsening security environment means “countries are looking to procure more weapons.” With the supply crunch expected to worsen, it could hamper these efforts, the authors noted.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2022

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