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, while exports of Chinese and Russian arms fell during the last five years.
According to data on global arms transfers published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the U.S. supplied major arms to 96 states in 2016–20, with 47% of arms transfers going to the Middle East. Saudi Arabia alone accounted for 24 per cent of total U.S. arms exports. The 15 per cent increase in US arms exports between 2011–15 and 2016–20 further widened the gap between the U.S. and Russia, the second largest arms exporter.
France, the third largest exporter, increased its exports of major arms by 44 % and accounted for 8.2 % of global arms exports in 2016–20. India, Egypt and Qatar combined to receive 59 % of French arms exports. Germany, which came in fourth, increased its exports of major arms by 21 % between 2011–15 and 2016–20 and accounted for 5.5 % of the global total. The top markets for German arms exports were South Korea, Algeria and Egypt.
Arms exports by Russia, which accounted for 20% of all exports of major arms in 2016–20, dropped by 22 %, to roughly the same level as in 2006–10. The bulk—around 90% — of the decrease was due to a 53 % fall in its arms exports to India.
‘Russia substantially increased its arms transfers to China, Algeria and Egypt between 2011–15 and 2016–20, but this did not offset the large drop in its arms exports to India,’ said Alexandra Kuimova, Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. ‘Although Russia has recently signed new large arms deals with several states and its exports will probably gradually increase again in the coming years, it faces strong competition from the USA in most regions.’
Exports by China, the world’s fifth largest arms exporter in 2016–20, decreased by 7.8 % between 2011–15 and 2016–20. Chinese arms exports accounted for 5.2 % of total arms exports in 2016–20. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Algeria were the largest recipients of Chinese arms.
Middle Eastern states imported 25 % more major arms in 2016–20 than they did in 2011–15. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest arms importer, increased its arms imports by 61 % and Qatar by 361 %. Arms imports by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) fell by 37 %.
Egypt’s arms imports increased by 136 % between 2011–15 and 2016–20. Egypt, which is involved in disputes with Turkey over hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean, has invested heavily in its naval forces.
Turkey’s arms imports fell by 59 % between 2011–15 and 2016–20. A major factor was the USA halting deliveries of F-35 combat aircraft to the country in 2019, after Turkey imported Russian air defence systems. Turkey is also increasing domestic production of major arms, to reduce its reliance on imports.
Arms imports by India decreased by 33 % between 2011–15 and 2016–20. Russia was the most affected supplier, although India’s imports of US arms also fell, by 46 %.
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