India’s arms imports are now almost 3 times as high as those of the second and third largest arms importers, China and Pakistan, whilst the global trade in conventional weapons rose by 14% in the five year period between 2009 and 2013, compared to the previous five, according to a report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI.
The United States remains the world´s leading exporter of arms, with the remaining top five countries of Russia, Germany, China and France accounting for 74% of all global sales. In fact, the top two exporters, the USA and Russia, accounted for 56% of the total.
America is responsible for 29% of all weapons sales, providing arms to at least 90 countries, whereas Russia has increased its sales and now has 27% of the global market share selling more than half of their weapons to India, China and Algeria, Germany has 7%, China 6% and France 5%.
Germany saw a drop of 24% in this period, and France also declined by 30%, whereas perhaps the most startling change was sales by China, which rocketed by 212%, primarily selling to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burma.
Arms imports to Arab states of the Gulf increased by 23% from 2004 and 08 to 2009 and 2013, accounting for 52% of imports to the Middle East in the latter period. Saudi Arabia rose to become the 5th largest importer of major weapons worldwide in 2009 to 2013, compared to 18th in 2004 to 2008.
Several Gulf states have invested heavily in advanced, long-range strike systems and air and missile defence systems. This includes large orders for and deliveries of combat aircraft with precision-guided weapons from the United Kingdom and the USA.
‘The USA, which accounted for 45 per cent of arms deliveries to Gulf states, has signed a series of major deals which will maintain its high levels of arms exports to these countries. In 2013, for the first time, the USA allowed the sale of long-range air launched cruise missiles to Gulf states,’ said Pieter Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme.
The volume of Indian imports of major weapons rose by 111% between 2004 and 2008 and 2009 to 2013, and its share of the volume of international arms imports increased from 7% to 14%. The major suppliers of arms to India in 2009 to 2013 was Russia, accounting for 75% of all imports, whereas the USA was responsible for 7%, becoming the second largest arms supplier to India.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s imports of major arms increased by 119%, with America being responsible for 27%, somewhat behind China with 54% of Pakistani arms imports and 82% to Bangladesh.
‘Chinese, Russian and US arms supplies to South Asia are driven by both economic and political considerations,’ said Siemon Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. ‘In particular, China and the USA appear to be using arms deliveries to Asia to strengthen their influence in the region.’