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South Asia and the Gulf lead rising trend in arms imports

WORLD: South Asia and the Gulf lead rising trend in arms imports as Russian exports grow


17 March 2014

India's arms imports are now almost 3 times as high as those of the second and third largest arms importers - China and Pakistan - according to new data on international arms transfers published today by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Overall, the volume of international transfers of major conventional weapons grew by 14 per cent between 2004-08 and 2009-13.

The volume of Indian imports of major weapons rose by 111 % between 2004–08 and 2009–13, and its share of the volume of international arms imports increased from 7 to 14 per cent. Pakistan's imports of major weapons increased by 119 % in the interim.

In the case of India, the major suppliers of arms were Russia, accounting for 75 %, and The U.S., accounting for 7 %. For the first time the U.S., became the second largest arms supplier to India. In distinction, the U.S.'s share of Pakistani imports in the same period was 27 %. China is also a major supplier in the region, accounting for 54 % of Pakistani arms imports and 82 % of Bangladeshi imports.

Siemon Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Program said:
"Chinese, Russian and US arms supplies to South Asia are driven by both economic and political considerations,' […] In particular, China and the USA appear to be using arms deliveries to Asia to strengthen their influence in the region.”

Russian arms deliveries remain high
The five largest suppliers of major weapons during 2009–13 were the U.S. (29 % of global arms exports), Russia (27 %), Germany (7 %), China (6 %) and France (5 %).

These top 5 suppliers accounted for 74 % of the total volume of arms exports worldwide. The U.S. and Russia together accounted for 56 % of the volume of arms exports.

Siemon Wezeman further stated:
"Russia has maintained high levels of arms exports despite the crisis in its arms industry in the post-cold war period,' […] In 2009-13 Russia delivered major arms to 52 states. Russia's most significant export in 2013 was of an aircraft carrier to India.”

Imports by Gulf States on the rise
Arms imports to Arab States of the Gulf increased by 23 % from 2004-08 to 2009-2013, 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 2009-13, compared to being the 18th in 2004-08.

Several Gulf States have invested heavily in advanced, long-range strike systems and air and missile defense systems. This includes large orders of combat aircraft with precision-guided weapons from the UK and the U.S.

Pieter Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Program said:
"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.

Other notable developments:
Brazil is increasing its arms imports. In 2009-13 it ordered 4 submarines from France and 2044 armored vehicles from Italy, and decided to buy 36 combat aircraft from Sweden.

South Korea was the 8th largest arms importer in 2009-13, receiving and ordering combat aircraft, missiles, reconnaissance aircraft and air defense radars in order to increase its capability to detect and destroy North Korean missiles.

Australia increased its imports of major arms by 83 % between 2004-08 and 2009-13.

China has firmly established itself as a supplier of major arms in the same category as Germany and France, and has succeeded in convincing Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), to select Chinese air defense systems.

Imports by Azerbaijan increased by 378 % between 2004-08 and 2009-13.

Sudan and Uganda - both of which are involved in a number of conflicts - accounted for 17 and 16 %, respectively, of arms imports in sub-Saharan Africa.

European arms imports decreased by 25 % between 2004-08 and 2009-13.

In the period 2009-13, 10 countries received a total of 16 submarines of which 8 were delivered by Germany. By the end of 2013, another 50 submarines were on order.


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