Regional tensions fuel growth in India’s arms imports: SIPRI report

Mar 12, 2018 13:51 IST
Regional tensions fuel growth in India’s arms imports: SIPRI report

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said in a report on March 12, 2018 that the volume of international transfers of major weapons in 2013-17 grew by 10 per cent in comparison to the transfers that happened in 2008-12.

The data reveals the continuation of an upward trend that began two decades ago in the early 2000s. The report showed that while the flow of arms increased to Asia, Oceania and the Middle East between 2008–12 and 2013–17, there was a decrease in the flow to Africa, the Americas and Europe.

In terms of export, the five biggest exporters - the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China - together accounted for 74 per cent of all arms exports in 2013–17.

Arms Transfer in India

 Regional tensions fuel growth in India’s arms imports • The report revealed that India was the world’s largest importer of major arms in 2013–17 and accounted for 12 per cent of the global total.

• India’s arms imports increased by 24 per cent between 2008–12 and 2013–17.

• Russia accounted for 62 per cent of India’s arms imports in 2013–17.

• On the other hand, arms imports from the United States increased by 557 per cent between 2008–12 and 2013–17, making it India’s second largest arms supplier.

Transfer of major weapons in other South Asian nations

• Despite continuing tension with India, especially on the border areas, Pakistan’s arms imports decreased by 36 per cent between 2008–12 and 2013–17.

• Pakistan accounted for 2.8 per cent of global arms imports in 2013–17. Its arms imports from the United States dropped by 76 per cent in 2013–17 in comparison to 2008–12.

• China’s arms imports fell by 19 per cent between 2008–12 and 2013–17.

• However, despite the decrease, China was the world’s fifth-largest arms importer in 2013–17.

According to Siemon Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme the tensions between India on one side and Pakistan and China on the other are fuelling India’s growing demand for major weapons, which it remains unable to produce itself.

‘China, by contrast, is becoming increasingly capable of producing its own weapons and continues to strengthen its relations with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar through arms supplies,” he stated.


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Nearly half of US arms exports go to the Middle East

• The report stated that in 2013–17, the United States accounted for 34 per cent of total arms exports.

• Its arms exports increased by 25 per cent between 2008–12 and 2013–17.

• It supplied major arms to 98 states in the period between 2013–17 and nearly half of the exports went to the war-stricken states in the Middle East.

• Most states in the Middle East were directly involved in violent conflict in 2013–17. Hence the arms import in the region increased by 103 per cent between 2008–12 and 2013–17 and accounted for 32 per cent of global arms imports in 2013–17.

• The US and European states remain the main arms exporters to the region and supplied over 98 per cent of weapons imported by Saudi Arabia.’

• In 2013–17 Saudi Arabia was the world’s second-largest arms importer, with arms imports increasing by 225 per cent compared with 2008–12.

• On the other hand, arms import by Egypt - the third largest importer in 2013–17- grew by 215 per cent between 2008–12 and 2013–17.

• The United Arab Emirates was the fourth largest importer in 2013–17, while Qatar (the 20th largest arms importer) increased its arms imports and signed several major deals in that period.

Top Exporters

 Regional tensions fuel growth in India’s arms imports • US arms exports in 2013–17 were 58 per cent higher than those of Russia—the second largest arms exporter in that period.

• The overall volume of arms exports by Russia saw a decrease of 7.1%  between 2008–12 and 2013–17.

• France increased its arms exports by 27 per cent between the two periods and was the third largest arms exporter in 2013–17.

• On the other hand, arms exports by Germany - the fourth largest exporter in 2013–17 - fell by 14 per cent between 2008–12 and 2013–17. However, German arms exports to the Middle East increased by 109 per cent.

• China was the fifth largest arms exporter in 2013–17 with its arms exports rising by 38 per cent between 2008–12 and 2013–17. While Pakistan was the main recipient of China’s arms exports in 2013–17, there was a large increase in Chinese arms exports to Algeria and Bangladesh in that period.

• The United Kingdom was the sixth largest weapons exporter in 2013–17.

• Besides this, other nations including Israel (55 per cent), South Korea (65 per cent) and Turkey (145 per cent) also substantially increased their respective arms exports between 2008–12 and 2013–17.


• SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.

• Established in 1966, it provides data, analysis and recommendations, based on open sources, to policymakers, researchers, media and public.

• The SIPRI Arms Transfers Database contains information on all international transfers of major weapons (including sales, gifts and production licences) to states, international organizations and armed non-state groups from 1950 to the most recent full calendar year, 2017.

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

• As the volume of deliveries can fluctuate significantly year-on-year, SIPRI presents data for 5-year periods, giving a more stable measure of trends.

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