The new statistics on the global arms trade between 2016-2020 by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) are out, giving many insights to the weapons exports and imports worldwide. Asia and Oceania, remained the largest importing region for major arms, receiving 42 per cent of global arms transfers.
Interestingly, for the first time since 2001–2005, the volume of deliveries of major arms between countries did not increase between 2011–15 and 2016–20. However, international arms transfers remain close to the highest level since the end of the cold war.
Indian effect on Russian Arms Exports
Surprisingly, the steps taken by India’s new government formed under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi in 2014 took the defense trade scenario to a new turn. The increased focus on indigenous development and self-dependence made India to decrease its arms imports by a whopping 33%. With this, Russia was hit the worst being the largest supplier of defence equipment to New Delhi.
The effect on Russia was large enough to not be ignored. The report mentions that the Russian arms exports dropped by 22%, although it accounted for 20% of all exports of major arms in 2016-2020. “The bulk—around 90 per cent—of this decrease was attributable to a 53 per cent fall in its arms exports to India,” it mentioned.
Besides increasing defence relations with Washington, India’s defence imports from the US decreased by 46%. The drop in Indian arms imports seems to have been mainly due to its complex procurement processes, combined with an attempt to reduce its dependence on Russian arms. India is planning large-scale arms imports in the coming years from several suppliers.
It is a known fact that Beijing’s aggressive and expansionist policies has put most of the East Asian nations to a worry, which has directly impacted the weapons proliferation in the region.
‘For many states in Asia and Oceania, a growing perception of China as a threat is the main driver for arms imports,’ said Siemon T. Wezeman, Senior Researcher at SIPRI. ‘More large imports are planned, and several states in the region are also aiming to produce their own major arms.’
China was still the largest arms importer in East Asia, receiving 4.7 per cent of global arms imports in 2016–20.
However, its arms exports declined by 7.8% between 2011-2015 and 2016-2020. With a total share of over 5% in total arms exports between 2016 and 2020, China’s main customers were Pakistan, Bangladesh and Algeria. The warm defence ties between Islamabad and Beijing are said to be the key to achieve the milestone.
The United States remains the largest arms exporter, increasing its global share of arms exports from 32 to 37 per cent between 2011–15 and 2016–20. The USA supplied major arms to 96 states in 2016–20, far more than any other supplier.
France also saw a substantial increase in arms exports, by 44 per cent and accounted for 8.2 per cent of global arms exports in 2016–20. India, Egypt and Qatar together received 59 per cent of French arms exports.