India remains world's biggest arms buyer; Pakistan, China cut imports

13 March 2018

India has long been known as the world's biggest arms importer. A new study underlines this, saying India was the world's largest importer of major weapons between 2013 and 2017, and its imports have increased by 24 per cent over the last 10 years, accounting for 12 per cent of the arms transfers in the world.

According to the latest annual study by the global watchdog on arms sales, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Pakistan's and China's arms imports have reduced in the same period.

Russia remained India's largest supplier of arms in 2013-2017. Russian arms accounted for 62 per cent of India's imports. But the United States recorded blazing growth in its arms exports to India, recording over 550 per cent growth in 2013-17 compared with the previous five years. As a result, the US has become India's second largest supplier.

''The tensions between India on the one side and Pakistan and China on the other are fuelling India's growing demand for major weapons, which it remains unable to produce itself,'' the SIPRI report said quoting Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher with the watchdog's Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

Despite decades of effort and trillions of rupees in expenditiure, India's indigenous arms making capabilities remain pathetic, which experts say is a natural outcome of these efforts being fully government-controlled.

''China, by contrast, is becoming increasingly capable of producing its own weapons and continues to strengthen its relations with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar through arms supplies,'' said Wezeman.

Pakistan's arms imports decreased by 36 per cent between 2008-12 and 2013-17. China's arms imports fell by 19 per cent between 2008-12 and 2013-17, yet it was the fifth largest arms importer in 2013-17.

The US remained the biggest arms seller, accounting for 34 per cent of global arms exports. Its exports increased by 25 per cent between 2008-12 and 2013-17. US arms exports in 2013-17 were 58 per cent higher than those of Russia, the second largest arms exporter in that period.

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