Middle East, India push up global arms trade to highest levels

Global arms trade spikes to highest since the end of the Cold War

Arms imports by Azerbaijan were 20 times higher than those of Armenia between 2012 and 2016, a report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has found.

"While China is increasingly able to substitute arms imports with indigenous products, India remains dependent on weapons technology from many willing suppliers, including Russian Federation, the United States, European states, Israel and South Korea". Weapon imports by neighbouring Qatar, meanwhile, surged 245 percent. Imports were also largely on the decline in Latin America, with only Mexico increasing its demand.

Of all the weapons the USA exported in the last five years, 47% ended up in the Middle East.

Arms imports to Europe, Africa and the Americas all fell, though the study authors point out that individual trading volumes varied widely.

Asia was the main recipient region in the world as India dwarfed regional rivals, China and Pakistan, by accounting for 13 per cent of the global imports. Its arms exports increased by 21 per cent compared with 2007-2011. French arms export deliveries may increase soon because of a series of major contracts signed in the past five years.

Transfers of major arms - which include missiles, warplanes, submarines and air defence systems - were at their highest volume past year since 1990, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Over the last five years, the world trade in arms has reached a level not seen since 1990.

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It said, between 2007-11 and 2012-16, arms imports by states in the Middle East rose by 86 per cent and accounted for 29 per cent of global imports in 2012-16. It accounts for one-third of total global arms exports.

"Over the past five years, most states in the Middle East have turned primarily to the United States and Europe in their accelerated pursuit of advanced military capabilities", said Dr Wezeman.

"With no regional arms control instruments in place, states in Asia continue to expand their arsenals", he said Monday.

Rising oil wealth had made it possible for Middle Eastern countries to ramp up their military spending - but that's not expected to last.

The United States and France are the main weapons providers for the Middle East, while Russian Federation and China are the main exporters to Asia.

France accounted for 6 percent, with Germany was responsible for 5.6 percent.

Tensions have grown since 2014 as China has turned sandbars into islands, equipping them with airfields, ports and weapons systems and warned US warships and aircraft to stay away from them.

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