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Saudi Arabia overtakes India as world's top defence importer

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09 March 2015

Saudi Arabia emerged the world's top importer of defence equipment in 2014, displacing India from the top slot, IHS Inc reported as global defence trade increased for the sixth straight year to $64.4 billion, up from $56.8 billion.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi ArabiaAccording to Ben Moores, senior defence analyst at IHS Aerospace, Defense & Security, defence trade was up by a landmark 13.4 per cent over the past year. He added, this record figure had been driven by unparalleled demand from the emerging economies for military aircraft and an escalation of regional tensions in the Middle East and Asia Pacific.

Saudi Arabian imports increased 54 per cent on year in 2014, and were projected to increase by 52 per cent to $9.8 billion this year, based on planned deliveries, according to IHS.

This meant, out of every seven dollars spent on defence imports in 2015, one would be spent by Saudi Arabia.

The US, the world's top supplier of defence equipment, accounted for a third of all exports last year and had been the biggest beneficiary of strong Middle Eastern demand, IHS said.

The worlds' top five defence equipment makers were America's Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, Europe's Airbus Group and Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).

While Russian exports surged 9 per cent to $10 billion in 2014, industry exports now faced challenging times.

According to the report, which examined the defence market across 65 countries, Saudi Arabia spent over $6.4 billion on defence  in 2014, overtaking India on $5.57 billion.

The imports of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) combined at $8.6 billion overtook the combined imports of Western Europe.

The US, maintaining its position, shipped $23.7 billion of equipment, ahead of Russia on $10 billion.

Though Russia's performance came in strong with a $2.3 billion boost of sales to China, the study projected tough times ahead.

"A drop-off in exports is forecast for 2015 as major programmes draw to a close, a trend that could be accelerated by sanctions," it said.

"Furthermore, falls in the oil price are set to have a devastating impact on some lead Russian clients who are vulnerable to low oil prices, such as Venezuela and Iran."





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