Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Asia, Middle East lead rising trends in arms imports

Asia, Middle East lead rising trends in arms imports

With the Middle East accounting for 49 percent of total USA arms exports, Saudi Arabia was by far its biggest customer.

But with New Delhi showing increasingly more affinity to the U.S., the import from America rose by a whopping 557% between 2008-12 and 2013-17, said the latest report from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute that keeps an eye on the global arms trade. But imports from the USA increased by a whopping 557 per cent between 2008-12 and 2013-17.

The U.S. continues to dominate arms exports, and it has accounted for 34 percent of total arms exports over the past five years. However, arms imports from the US rose by 557 percent, making it India's second largest arms supplier.

France, Germany and China were likewise among the main five exporters.

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Israel increased its imports by 125%, receiving arms mainly from the US, Germany and Italy.Iran, which is under an global arms embargo, spends a fraction of what its Arab neighbours spend on weapons, instead relying on proxies and soft power to advance its policies.

The Middle East, a region where in the past five years most countries have been involved in conflict, accounted for 32% of global imports of weapons.

In 2013-17, Saudi Arabia was the world's second largest arms importer, behind India, with arms imports increasing by 225 percent. 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.

Under Abdel Fatah al-Sisi's presidency, Egypt's arms imports grew by 215 percent in the last five years. Its exports were 58 percent higher than those of Russian Federation, who was the world's second largest arms exporter during the 2013-2017 period.

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China's arms import slipped by 19 percent between 2008-12 and 2013-17 as the country produced its own advanced weapons. The US and European countries, including Germany, supplied the bulk of the weapons. The US share of arms sales has gone up from 30 per cent recorded in the 2008-12 period.

"Widespread violent conflict in the Middle East and concerns about human rights have led to political debate in Western Europe and North America about restricting arms sales", Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher for the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme, said in a statement.

Military expert Collin Koh, from the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said higher value military items like warships and fighter jets were the major reason for the rise in China's arms exports.

Weapons imports to the Middle East and Asia have boomed over the past five years, fueled by war and tensions in those regions, a new study showed on Monday.

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Setting a new trend, China has emerged as the number one arms supplier to Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, by supplying almost 70% of the arms used by the military in these three nations. Deliveries of advanced combat aircraft from the US will drive import volumes up during the next few years.

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