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Inside Story
Who benefits from global arms deals?
We ask why the arms industry has continued to boom despite the global economic crisis.
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2012 14:25

A new report says countries in Asia have been the main drivers of weapons growth in the last 10 years.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) claims that in the last five years up until 2011, global arms transfers were 24 per cent higher than in the previous five years.

Asian countries accounted for 44 per cent of all weapons imports. India was the biggest buyer - making up 10 per cent of global imports. It overtook China, which fell to fourth place.

"We collect all this information from a whole lot of open sources and we focus on major arms deals … but we know that is not complete … that there are deals that we have missed. And of course, with the illegal arms trade - there one can find very little reliable information."

Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher at SIPRI

But Beijing's decline in imports coincided with an increase in arms exports. The outflow of Chinese-made weapons jumped by 95 per cent - making China the sixth largest supplier of arms in the world, just behind the UK.

SIPRI said this arms business is maintained by the US and Russia, which makes up about half of the globe’s arms exports. From the report we learn that the US accounts from 30 per cent of global arms exports, selling arms to more than 80 countries.

Russia’s share of the global arms trade stood at about 24 per cent with most of its military supplies being shipped to China.

Germany is the world’s third biggest weapons seller at nine per cent followed by France eight per cent.

Just what is behind this boom in the arms trade? And who stands to gain most from increasing defence budgets?

Inside Story, with presenter Adrian Finighan talks to Pieter Wezeman, a senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme; Alexandre Vautravers, a professor of International Relations at Webster University in Geneva and editor of the Swiss Military Review; Joseph Dube, the Africa coordinator for the International Action Network on Small Arms.

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GLOBAL ARMS DEALS:

  • In 2011 Saudi Arabia placed an order with the USA for 154 F-15SA combat aircraft, which was not only the most significant order placed by any state in 2011 but also the largest arms deal for at least two decades. 
  • Greece’s arms imports decreased by 18 per cent between 2002–2006 and 2007–11. In 2007–11 it was the 10th largest arms importer, down from being the 4th largest in 2002–2006. Greece placed no new order for major conventional weapons in 2011.
  • Venezuela’s arms imports increased by 555 per cent between 2002–2006 and 2007–11 and it rose from being the 46th largest importer to the 15th largest. 
  • The volume of deliveries of major conventional weapons to states in North Africa increased by 273 per cent between 2002–2006 and 2007–11. Morocco’s imports of major weapons increased by 443 per cent between 2002–2006 and 2007–11.
Source:
Al Jazeera
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