India was the world’s largest importer of major arms in the last five years and its overseas procurement was far greater than that of China and Pakistan, a Stockholm-based think-tank said today. As per latest report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India accounted for 13 per cent of the total global arms import between 2012–16 which is highest among all the countries. The report said while China was increasingly able to substitute arms imports with indigenous products, India remained dependent on weapons technology from Russia, the US, Europe, Israel and South Korea.
“India was the world’s largest importer of major arms in 2012–16, accounting for 13 per cent of the global total,” the leading think-tank said. It said India increased its arms imports by 43 per cent between 2007–11 and 2012–16 and in the last four years its global procurement was far greater than those of its regional rivals China and Pakistan. In the last five years, the report found that trade of
major weapons has increased to its highest volume since the Cold War, triggered mainly by sudden spurt in demand from Middle East and Asia.
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Saudi Arabia was the second largest arms importer in 2012-16, with an increase of 212 per cent compared with 2007–11. Arms imports by Qatar went up by 245 per cent. According to the report, Russia accounted for a 23 per cent share of global exports in the period 2012–16 and 70 per cent of its arms exports went to India, Vietnam, China and Algeria. The US was the top arms exporter in 2012–16 with a one-third share of global arms exports and its supplies rose by 21per cent compared with 2007–11. Almost half of its arms exports went to the Middle East, said the report.
The report said China’s share of global arms exports rose from 3.8 to 6.2 per cent between 2007–11 and 2012–16. “It is now firmly a top-tier supplier, like France and Germany which accounted for 6 per cent and 5.6 per cent, respectively,” said the think-tank. “The USA supplies major arms to at least 100 countries around the world—significantly more than any other supplier state,” said Dr Aude Fleurant, Director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.
The report said arms imports by states in Asia and Oceania accounted for 43 per cent of global imports between 2012 and 2016 which was an increase of 7.7 per cent compared to 2007–11 period. “The volume transfers of major weapons has grown continuously since 2004 and increased by 8.4 per cent between 2007–11 and 2012–16. Notably, transfers of major weapons in 2012–16 reached their highest volume for any five-year period since the end of the cold war,” the independent institute said in a statement.
It said, between 2007–11 and 2012–16, arms imports by states in the Middle East rose by 86 per cent and accounted for 29 per cent of global imports in 2012–16. “Over the past five years, most states in the Middle East have turned primarily to the USA and Europe in their accelerated pursuit of advanced military capabilities,” said Pieter Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.
He said despite low oil prices, countries in the region continued to order more weapons in 2016, perceiving them as crucial tools for dealing with conflicts and regional tensions. Imports by states in Europe significantly decreased by 36 per cent between 2007–11 and 2012–16.