The global arms trade is soaring. Who are the big players?

Weapons sales have reached their highest level since the end of the Cold War, with two countries dominating the market, a new report says.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

The US was the biggest exporter of weapons from 2012 to 2016. India was the top importer.

Updated Feb 22, 2017

Which country is buying the most weapons?

India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India would spend over $150 billion over the next ten years to modernise its military. And it seems to be doing just that.

It easily outspent its Asian rivals China and Pakistan with a 14 percent share of all global arms imports between 2012 to 2016, a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said. That's a 43 percent jump from the previous four years, when India accounted for 9.7 percent of global arms imports.

Who is India buying from?

The United States (US) and India have said their relationship is "limitless." But when it comes to buying weapons, India is shopping in Russia.

Sixty-eight percent of India's imports were from Russia. The US sold India 14 percent of its weapons and Israel supplied 7.2 percent. Purchases included air-defence systems, helicopters and warships.  

A senior researcher with SIPRI, Siemon Wezeman, said the inability of India's domestic industry to meet its requirements were a major factor in pushing up its imports.

“While China is increasingly able to substitute arms imports with indigenous products, India remains dependent on weapons technology from many willing suppliers, including Russia, the USA, European states, Israel and South Korea,” Wezeman said.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are second and third on the list of biggest weapons importers. They prefer to buy from the US.

So who is the top supplier of weapons  Russia or the US?

The US was the biggest exporter of arms, contributing to 33 percent of the world's weapon supply between 2012 and 2016.

“The USA supplies major arms to at least 100 countries around the world – significantly more than any other supplier state,” the director of SIPRI’s arms and military expenditure programme, Aude Fleurant, said.

"Both advanced strike aircraft with cruise missiles and other precision-guided munitions and the latest generation air and missile defence systems account for a significant share of US arms exports."

Russia supplied 23 percent, China 6.2 percent and France 6 percent and Germany 5.6 percent. 

Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey, Australia, Iraq, Egypt, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Israel and the UK were also top customers.


Saudi Arabia was the second largest importer of weapons in the world from 2012-2016. (Reuters)

Which region of the world is buying the most weapons?

The Middle East.

"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," Wezeman said.

Saudi Arabia was the biggest buyer. It increased its imports by 212 percent in the four years to 2016.

Arms sales in the Middle East and the Gulf jumped from 17 percent to 29 percent, exceeding European purchases which stood at  11 percent.

"Imports by states in Europe decreased by 36 percent between 2007–11 and 2012–16... Economic pressures forced states such as Greece and Spain to greatly reduce their arms imports," the report said.

The United Kingdom was Europe's biggest importer of weapons even as it reduced its reliance on foreign weapons by 22 percent between 2007 and 2016.

The Americas bought 8.6 percent of the arms and Africa 8.1 percent.  Algeria was Africa's biggest buyer, with 46 percent of all imports to the region. 

 


The United States and France are the main weapons providers for the Middle East, while Russia and China are the main exporters to Asia. (Reuters)

Who are the 10 top weapons importers?

-India
-Saudi Arabia
-China
-UAE
-Australia
-Turkey
-Pakistan
-Vietnam
-USA
-South Korea

Who are the 10 top exporters?

-USA
-Russia
-China
-France
-Germany
-UK
-Spain
-Italy
-Ukraine 
-Netherlands

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies