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Global arms sales passed $400 billion in 2009: think tank

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STOCKHOLM (AFP): The world's 100 largest arms dealers, excluding Chinese vendors, sold weapons for USD 401 billion in 2009, with US vendors remaining in first place, according to a report.

"Despite the continuing global economic recession in 2009, the total arms sales of ... 100 of the world's largest arms-producing companies increased by 14.8 billion from 2008," the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in a statement upon releasing the report on Monday.

That amounts to a year-on-year increase of eight percent, and "an increase of a total of 59 percent in real terms since 2002", the think tank said, pointing out that 61.5 per cent of all 2009 arms sales made by the top 100 arms dealers could be attributed to 45 companies based in the United States.

"US government spending on military goods and services is a key factor in arms sales increases for US arms-producing and military services companies and for Western European companies with a foothold in the US arms and military services market," SIPRI arms industry expert Susan Jackson explained in the statement.

On Sipri's list of the world's 10 largest arms vendors, seven were American: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, L-3 Communications and United Technologies.

Ten of the companies figuring on the top 100 list were based in Asia, including four in Japan and three in India, while seven were located in the Middle East, three of which were based in Israel.

In 2009, Lockheed Martin inched ahead of British BAE Systems to take global first place, raking in USD 33.4 billion on arms sales compared to BAE's USD 33.3 billion. Both companies meanwhile each accounted for 8.3 per cent of all weapons sold by the world's top 100 vendors.

BAE's branch in the United States alone accounted for USD 19.3 billion in sales, which if it had been a separate company would have secured it a seventh place on the global ranking, SIPRI said.

Thirty-three of the top 100 companies were meanwhile based in nine Western European countries: Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Britain, accounting for 120 billion dollars worth of sales, or 30 percent of all weapons sold in 2009, according to SIPRI.

After BAE, the world's second largest vendor, trans-European group EADS topped the ranking for the continent, securing a seventh place with USD 15.9 billion in sales, or 4.0 per cent of the global market, and Italian Finmeccanica, which ranked eighth globally, with USD 13.3 billion in sales and 3.3 per cent of worldwide sales.

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