Global arms sales surge driven by Middle East demand

Global weapons sales highest since end of Cold War

Zainal Abd Halim Reuters

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said that Asia and Oceania accounted for 43% of global arms imports in 2012-16, with India being the largest importer, accounting for 43% of all imports.

In accordance with previous trends, the U.S. topped the list of largest exporters in the world while Russian Federation came in second and China third. Their share in a total volume of global arms exports accounted for 33 %.

In the Middle East, arms imports nearly doubled between the two five-year periods. Among the biggest jumps were Saudi Arabia's (up 212%) and Qatar's (up 245%).

Almost one-half of the USA total sales went to the Middle East. It is now a top-tier supplier.

Arms imports by countries in the Middle East increased by 86% in the past five years, compared to the five years prior to 2011.

Military import in European countries dropped 36% from 2007-2011 to 2012-2016 and made 11% in global indicator. The report said while China was increasingly able to substitute arms imports with indigenous products, India remained dependent on weapons technology from Russian Federation, the US, Europe, Israel and South Korea.

"With no regional arms control instruments in place, states in Asia continue to expand their arsenals", said Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program.

Saudi Arabia, which leads a military intervention in Yemen, became the second biggest buyer of arms, followed by the United Arab Emirates, China, and Algeria, the study said. The country, which has the world's fourth biggest defense budget, is also accelerating efforts to produce weapons at home, though for now it remains dependent on external suppliers, SIPRI noted.

He said despite low oil prices, countries in the region continued to order more weapons in 2016, perceiving them as crucial tools for dealing with conflicts and regional tensions.

India has been the largest importer of major arms over the past five years, accounting for 13% of the global total.

It came in behind India - which, unlike China, does not produce arms at the national level yet.

The sale of American-made weapons to the global community is surging ahead, with the United States controlling almost one-third of all military-grade arms and equipment fielded by worldwide forces, according to new analysis of the worldwide arms market.

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