India world’s largest importer of arms

New study says five largest recipient countries are all Asian states, including Pakistan and China, prompting fears of a fierce arms race in the region.

world Updated: Mar 20, 2012 01:34 IST

India is the world’s largest recipient of arms while South Korea is second and Pakistan and China are tied in third place, says the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in a study on international arms transfers.

The volume of worldwide arms transfers in 2007-11 was 24% higher than in 2002-06 and the five largest arms importers in 2007-11 were all Asian states, said a press communique.

The data revealed that Asia and Oceania accounted for a whopping 44% of global arms imports, followed by Europe 19%, the Middle East 17%, and the Americas 11%. Africa was the lowest with 9%.

India was the world’s largest recipient of arms, accounting for 10% of global arms imports.

Alongside India, the five largest arms importers today are all Asian states, according to the data, prompting fears of an arms race in a region still blighted by deep poverty.

“India has long been a major purchaser of weapons. Now it is the biggest in the world,” said Pieter Wezeman, a researcher at the institute.

Wezeman said India’s top ranking was in part due to Delhi increasing its arms spend but also to China’s increasing ability to produce its own weapons.

India is now importing twice as many arms as China, its main regional rival, the institute’s data shows. Three other large recipients of arms in 2007–2011 were South Korea, Pakistan, and Singapore.

One recent Indian deal alone — for 126 fighter jets worth up to 10bn pounds — sparked fierce competition. The French Rafale aircraft is favoured to win the contract despite lobbying by David Cameron for the Eurofighter Typhoon, which is a third British. By some estimates, India will spend more than 100bn pounds on weapons and systems in the next 15 years.

The other large recipients of arms in 2007-11 were South Korea (6% of arms transfers), Pakistan (5%), China (5%) and Singapore (4%).

“Major Asian importing states are seeking to develop their own arms industries and decrease their reliance on external sources of supply,” Wezeman, a senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme, was quoted as saying.

Between 2002-06 and 2007-11, the volume of Chinese arms exports increased by 95% and now China ranks as the sixth largest supplier of arms.

"While the volume of China’s arms exports is increasing, this is largely a result of Pakistan importing more arms from China," said Paul Holtom, director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme.

First Published: Mar 19, 2012 12:21 IST