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Asian countries lead in global arms imports, says Swedish peace institute

The Swedish research institute SIPRI has published its annual report on global weapons trading. According to SIPRI, India leads the world in arms imports, followed by three other Asian countries.

A fighter jet in the sky

The global arms trade is on the rise

India is the world's leading nation when it comes to arms imports by volume, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). New Delhi accounts for 9 percent of all global imports of weapons between 2006 and 2010. Russia provided 82 percent of all weapons exported to India.

Behind India, three other Asian nations topped the list. China and South Korea each account for 6 percent of all arms imports. Pakistan accounted for 5 percent.

SIPRI keeps track of international transfers of weapons. It released an annual update to its Arms Transfer Database on Monday.

One factor contributing to India's leading position in arms imports is the country's desire to keep up with China and Pakistan, SIPRI said.

In terms of regional arms imports, Asia and Oceania were the global leaders, receiving 43 percent of all imports.

Meeting demand

The United States continues to be the global leader in weapons exports, with just under a third of all exports coming from the US. However, the US is facing increasing competition, especially from European countries, to meet the global demand for weapons.

Military trucks

India is the global leader in arms imports

"There is intense competition between suppliers for big-ticket deals in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America," said Paul Holtom, director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Program, in a statement on the institute's website.

Germany is third among world weapons exporters, representing 11 percent of the global market in 2006 to 2010. The volume of German exports in this period nearly doubled compared to 2001 to 2005. Forty-four percent of German arms exports were ships.

Second-place Russia is far ahead of Germany in terms of weapons exports, with 23 percent of global exports. France is only slightly behind, with 7 percent. The share of French arms exports decreased by one percent compared to the previous period.

North African market

Libya has played a factor in the rising demand for weapons in North Africa and the scramble for suppliers to win contracts there. While Libya placed relatively few orders since a UN arms embargo was lifted in 2003, it did spark competition among major suppliers, SIPRI said.

In February, however, the United Nations Security Council placed fresh restrictions on arms imports to Libya in light of the government's violent crackdown on protests against the government led by Colonel Moammar Gadhafi.

The SIPRI report indicates that the average volume of worldwide arms transfers increased by 24 percent between 2006 and 2010 when compared with the previous four-year period, between 2001 and 2005.

Author: Matt Zuvela
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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