Global arms trade highest since Cold War era with US and Russia top exporters

Based on a five-year study through 2016, India and Saudi Arabia are the leading importers of weapons.

The USA accounts for one-third of global arms exports (File Photo)Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

The arms market has been bustling these past five years, with weapons trade at its highest since the Cold War era. A new report has revealed that sale of major weapons systems has seen a significant rise since 2012, which can be attributed to the rise of terrorism and civil unrest in various parts of the world.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), the US and Russia are the biggest arms shopping destinations, with America accounting for 33% of all exports. China ranks third on the sellers list followed by other countries in Europe.

"The USA supplies major arms to at least 100 countries around the world — significantly more than any other supplier state," said Aude Fleurant, director of the arms and military expenditure programme at Sipri. "Both advanced strike aircraft with cruise missiles and other precision-guided munitions and the latest generation air and missile defence systems account for a significant share of US arms exports.

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"The weight of the US in the global arms trade is so big that it's enough to shape the trend," she added to CNN Money.

On the other side of the counter, India, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were listed as the world's largest importers of arms, with India accounting for 13% of all buys, a majority of which are purchased from Russia.

"While China is increasingly able to substitute arms imports with indigenous products, India remains dependent on weapons technology from many willing suppliers, including Russia, the USA, European states, Israel and South Korea," said Siemon Wezeman, senior researcher at Sipri's arms and military expenditure programme. India has been bidding to increase its defence prowess against growing threats from its neighbours Pakistan and China.

"They spend a lot of time and also money trying to develop weapons in India and things just go hopelessly wrong."

With many areas in the Middle East engulfed in conflict, it comes as no surprise that the region relies heavily on imports, turning to the US for their supply. About 47% of all US weapons exports made in the five-year period end up in these areas.

"The tensions in the Middle East have been going on for a number of years, and it is fuelling the procurement," Fleurant explained.

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