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In the final decade of the twentieth century, the arms industry was mainly studied from the viewpoint of the desired “conversion” of the arms industry. Profound restructuring did take place but the industry emerged consolidated and more firmly rooted in the economy. The arms industry is built on solid foundations: the continued use of the military, high military spending, security doctrines justifying the discretionary use of military force and sustained efforts to develop technology. It is against the backdrop of this new paradigm that GRIP now studies changes in the arms industry in the European Union, the United States and at local level through regular monitoring of arms production in Belgium.
The First Military Budgets of Barack Obama: Change in Continuity (Luc Mampaey)

According to the proposition submitted on the 1st of February 2010 by Robert Gates, the military budget of the United States is expected to exceed 700 billion dollars for the fiscal year 2011. Despite this impressive figure, the first two budgets presented by the Obama administration represents a clear break with those of George W. Bush, and show a real commitment to curb financial excesses of several major weapons programs, previously considered as untouchable. However, it seems that this comeback to financial orthodoxy has been possible only through an under-estimation of certain expenses, and deferred necessary investments. Moreover, Barack Obama must deal with the inertia and cohesion of a military-industrial complex well determined to defend its positions and reinforced by the climate of permanent war that was installed since 2001. In this context, it is unrealistic to expect a critical shift of the path of military spending in the United States.

Other Analyses:
The emergence of the European industrial, military and security industrial system (contribution by Luc Mampaey for ATTAC’s summer school in Saarbrucken, Germany, 1-6 August 2008)
La nascita di un sistema industriale-militare di sicurezza europeo (Luc Mampaey), dans L'industria militare et la difesa europea - Annuario armi-disarmo (IRES, Toscana ), Jaca Book ed.
Military expenditure, production and transfers of weapons - Compendium 2010 (Luc Mampaey)

This report summarizes the main statistics on global military expenditure, arms production and international transfers of conventional arms. The data in this report are essentially from databases of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), an international standard since 1966, possibly supplemented by socio-economic statistics extracted from the databases of Eurostat, the World Bank, UN agencies or the press.

In 2008, the world military expenditures amounted to 1 464 billion dollars which represents 2.4% of the world GDP and about 217 dollars per capita. The United States accounts for 41.5% of the total.

The combined turnover achieved in the arms production by the top 100 arms producers in the world is estimated at 388.1 billion dollars for 2008. In 2008, the top 100 of the arms industry had 43 American firms, 26 firms from the European Union and 31 companies established elsewhere in the world.

In 2008, arms transfers were distributed at approximately 36% for the EU, 27% for the United States and 26% for Russia, all other countries sharing the remaining 10 %. Excluding intra-EU transfers, net exports from the EU to the rest of the world accounted for approximately 25% of world total. Assessing the financial value of arms exports in the world is about 50.6 billion dollars in 2007, representing approximately 0.29% of world trade in goods and services.

A distribution of the world arms imports according to the Human Development Index (HDI) prepared by the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP) indicates that the poorest countries in the world (low HDI) imported 0.81% of the global arms transfers in 2008. There is a marked improvement over the 1990s, when it exceeded 20%. However, as low as they are, the arms purchases continue to weigh heavily on the development capabilities of some countries.

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Update: 17/02/2010

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