European arms exports on the rise

Several Houthi rebels hold weapons during a demonstration in Sana'a against the military operations of the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia. September 11, 2015. [Yahya Arab/EFE]

France, Germany and Spain are among the world’s leading arms exporters. EURACTIV’s partner Euroefe reports.

According to a study published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the international weapons trade has increased by 10% over the last five years compared to the 2008-2012 period.

France and Germany are among the five biggest exporters in the world, placing third and fourth with 6.7% and 5.8%, respectively, of total arms exports, behind the US and Russia.

Spain is seventh with 2.9%, a 12% increase compared to the 2008-2012 period, after exploiting export markets mainly in Australia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Once again, the US is the world’s largest arms exporter and India the world’s largest importer. But SIPRI notes an increase in arms flow to Asia, Oceania and the Middle East and a decline in Africa, America and Europe.

Obama’s legacy

American arms exports have increased by 25% from 2008 to 2012 and 2013 to 2017. The country accounts for 34% of total arms export in the world (ahead of Russia, second largest exporter with 23%). The US has supplied a significant number of weapons to 98 states.

From 2013-2017 the Middle East received almost half of American arms export, with Saudi Arabia as the largest importer. The US has increased its exports by 557% to India to counter China’s growing influence in Asia and Oceania.

“Based on deals signed during the Obama administration, US arms deliveries in 2013–17 reached their highest level since the late 1990s. These deals and further major contracts signed in 2017 will ensure that the US remains the largest arms exporter in the coming years,” stated the report.

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Arms exports from Russia have decreased as a result of a decline in purchases by some of its partners such as Algeria and China. China is the fifth largest exporter at 5.7%, while Brazil places 24th with a 20% decrease in arms exports over the last five years.

The report points out three countries that have experienced substantial growth: Israel (55% increase), South Korea (65%) and Turkey (145%).

Asia and Oceania (42%) as well as the Middle East (32%) are the largest arms import regions in the world.

India once again confirmed its position as the largest buyer in the world, with imports increasing by 24% and accounting for 12% of total global imports. According to the SIPRI, this is because of continuing tensions with Pakistan and China, and India’s inability to produce and meet growing demand for major weapons.

Due to a 225% increase from 2008 to 2012, Saudi Arabia has now become the world’s second largest importer followed by Egypt, the UAE and China (whose imports have decreased because of its increase in production capacity).

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