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Central & South Asia

Report: India world's biggest buyer of arms

Swedish think tank says India's import of weapons rose by 111 percent during last five years.

Last updated: 17 Mar 2014 07:50
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China, Pakistan, UAE and Saudi Arabia are the other biggest arms importers after India [AP]

India remains the biggest buyer of arms in the world, importing nearly three times as many weapons as its nearest competitors China and Pakistan over the last five years, a Swedish think tank said. 

The total volume of arms sales was up 14 percent in 2009-13 compared to the previous five years, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Indian imports of major weapons rose by 111 percent in the last five years compared to 2004-08. Its share of total global arms imports increased from 7 to 14 percent, SIPRI said on Monday.

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With its domestic defence industry struggling to manufacture high-tech arms, India is in the midst of a defence spending binge as it struggles to keep up with better-equipped Chinese forces and a range of military challenges in its volatile neighbourhood. 

The main supplier of arms to India in 2009-13 was Russia, accounting for 75 percent of all imports, reflecting India's need to upgrade and modernise weapons systems dating back to their close relationship during the Cold War. 

India has lately sought to diversify its sources, looking particularly to the United States. 

India's traditional rival Pakistan increased its weapons acquisitions by 119 percent, growing from 2 percent of the global total to 5 percent during that period. 

The five largest arms suppliers worldwide between 2009 and 2013 were the United States (29 percent of global exports), Russia (27 percent), Germany (7 percent), China (6 percent) and France (5 percent). They collectively accounted for 74 percent of total arms exports, SIPRI said.

The world's top five arms importers were now India, China, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

"Chinese, Russian and US arms supplies to South Asia are driven by both economic and political considerations," said Siemon Wezeman, senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme.

"In particular, China and the USA appear to be using arms deliveries to Asia to strengthen their influence in the region," Wezeman said.

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