July 20, 2017

Global arms trade rises to post-Cold War high

21 February 2017, 12:52 | Ignacio Smith

Arms imports to Saudi Arabia have increased dramatically in recent years

Saudi military

The spike was fueled by conflicts in the Middle East, tensions in the South China Sea and the perceived threat from Russian Federation to its neighbors, according to a study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Qatar's imports rose by 245% in the five years period, as part of a procurement program that will multiply its military assets several times, according to the institute. Its arms imports increased by 202 percent. Although at lower rates, the majority of other states in the region also increased arms imports.

"While China is increasingly able to substitute arms imports with indigenous products, India remains dependent on weapons technology from many willing suppliers, including Russian Federation, the USA, European states, Israel and South Korea", said Siemon Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI's arms and military expenditure program. However, Iran, being under an arms embargo, received only 1.2 percent of total arms sales to the region.

The United States remains the world's top weapons exporter, with a 33 per cent market share - ahead of Russian Federation, with 23 per cent, and China, with 6.2 per cent of the trade.

China solidified its position as a top-tier supplier by increasing exports by 6.2 per cent compared to 3.8 per cent in the period between 2007 and 2011, while Germany decreased its exports by 36 per cent between the same period. Saudi Arabia takes second place among arms importers, and purchased 212% more arms than in the previous period.

During 2012-16, arms imports in terms of volume by countries in Asia and Oceania accounted for 43% of global imports, a 7.7% rise compared to the previous 2007-11 period, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).

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Notably, transfers of major weapons in 2012-16 reached their highest volume for any five-year period since the end of the cold war.

SIPRI data reflects the volume of deliveries of arms, not the financial value of the deals.

The Middle East, where demand grew by 86% between 2007 to 2011 and 2012 to 2016 to reach 29% of all imports, gets most of its destructive technology from the U.S. and France.

"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 US and Russian Federation together supplied more than half of all exports. It accounts for one-third of total global arms exports. Russian Federation accounted for a 23 percent share.

However the agency's three to five year economic forecast of its foreign weapons sales did sync up with Monday's SIPRI report.

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