India now world's top arms importer, China loses top slot

Modernising its armed forces along the borders with China and Pakistan, India has emerged as the world’s largest importer of arms, a global think tank report said.

The report pointed out that China, which was the largest importer of arms in 2002-2006, fell to fourth place in 2007-11 due to decline in the volume of Chinese imports along with improvements in China’s arms industry and rising arms exports.

“India was the world’s largest recipient of arms, accounting for 10 percent of global arms imports between 2007 to 2011,” the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said on Monday in its latest report.

The four next largest recipients of arms in the same period were South Korea (6 percent of arms transfers), Pakistan (5 percent), China (5 percent) and Singapore (4 percent).

The figures were not surprising given India’s huge reliance on imports, at about 70 percent of its total defence requirements. Since the Kargil conflict of 1999, India has been steadily buying up arms and ammunition from foreign suppliers, and has consistently been among the top defence importers of the world.

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The most visible trend during 2007-11 was how China, which was the largest recipient of arms exports in 2002-2006, fell to fourth position in 2007-11. The decline in Chinese imports coincided with significant growth of the Asian giant’s indigenous arms industry and its rising arms exports, the report said.

“India’s imports of major weapons increased by 38 percent between 2002-06 and 2007-11,” SIPRI said. “Notable deliveries of combat aircraft during 2007-11 included 120 Su-30MKs and 16 MiG-29Ks from Russia and 20 Jaguar Ss from the United Kingdom,” it said.

“Between 2002-2006 and 2007-11, the volume of Chinese arms exports increased by 95 percent. China now ranks as the sixth largest supplier of arms in the world, narrowly trailing the United Kingdom,” SIPRI said.

And the report also noted that Asia leads the world when it comes to weapon imports. Asia and Oceania accounted for 44 percent of global arms imports, followed by Europe (19 percent), the Middle East (17 percent), the Americas (11 percent) and Africa (9 percent), the think tank said.

Globally the volume of international transfers of major conventional weapons was 24 percent higher in the period 2007-11 compared to the 2002-06 period, the report said. Over the past five years, Asia and Oceania accounted for 44 percent in volume of conventional arms imports, the institute said.

Source: The Daily Star