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After 8 Years, Saudi Arabia Displaces India as World’s Largest Importer of Weapons

According to the annual report released by the Swedish-based think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), titled ‘Trends in International Arms Transfers-2018’, India is no longer the largest importer of weapons.


Updated:March 12, 2019, 9:15 AM IST
Agni 2, India, Nuclear Missile, Strategic Forces Command, Ballistic Missile
Representative image. (Image: REUTERS/Kamal Kishore)

New Delhi: After eight years of holding the position of the largest importer of weapons, India has been superseded by Saudi Arabia and dropped down to become the second largest importer of weapons in the world, a report said on Monday.

According to the annual report released by the Swedish-based think tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), titled ‘Trends in International Arms Transfers-2018’, “India was the world’s second largest importer of major arms in 2014-18 and accounted for 9.5 per cent of the global total.”

The assessment was done for a five-year period (2014-2018). Last year (for the period 2013-17), India accounted for 13 per cent of all imports and was the world’s largest importer, The Tribune reported.

SIRPI attributed to the gradual lowering of imports by India to delayed deliveries. “Imports decreased by 24 per cent between 2009-13 and 2014-18 (two five-year blocks), partly due to delays in deliveries of arms produced under licence from foreign suppliers, such as combat aircraft ordered from Russia in 2001 and submarines ordered from France in 2008,” the report said.

During the period studied by SIPRI, India procured Mi-17-V5 helicopters from Russia; maritime surveillance planes, the Boeing P8-I from the US, and UAVs and radars from Israel.

The five biggest exporters in five-year block period 2011-2015 were the US, Russia, France, Germany and China. The US and Russia remain by far the largest exporters, accounting for 36 per cent and 21 per cent, respectively, of the total global trade.

Another key finding of the report is that China, which is now the fifth largest exporter of weapons, has been aiding Pakistan and Bangladesh in stepping up their military prowess in the region. The two countries accounted for 53 per cent of Beijing’s exports from 2014-2018.

On the other hand, Beijing is also an importer. “Despite the rapid development of its indigenous arms-producing capabilities in recent years, China was the world’s sixth largest arms importer in 2014-18 and accounted for 4.2 per cent of the global total,” the SIPRI report said.

Russia accounted for 70 per cent of Chinese arms imports in 2014-18 with the latter relying for certain arms technologies such as engines for combat aircraft and large ships as well as long-range air and missile defence systems. ​

Pakistan recorded a 39% dip in arms imports in 2014-18 compared to 2009-13, with the US becoming “increasingly reluctant” to provide military aid or sell arms to Pakistan, the report said, adding, “US arms exports to Pakistan fell 81% between 2009-13 and 2014-18. Pakistan has instead turned to other suppliers. For example, in 2018 it ordered four frigates and 30 combat helicopters from Turkey."

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| Edited by: Zoya Mateen
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