Asia tops arms importers’ chart

Washington, August 31:

Arms merchants from industrialised nations are increasingly finding Asia, which has replaced the Near East as the world’s top conventional-weapons market, the place to go, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Led by purchases by China and India, the world’s most populous region accounted for nearly 50 per cent of the total value of all new arms-transfer agreements with developing nations between from 2001 through 2004, according to the report. India led the rankings in 2004 by signing 5.7 billion in new arms deals that year.

It also found the US and Russia continue to dominate all other arms suppliers by a significant margin in selling to developing countries. US and Russian companies last year signed agreements worth almost &7 billion and $6 billion, respectively, in conventional weapons for developing countries. Their combined total accounted for nearly 60 per cent of the $21.8 billion in all such sales to developing countries for 2004. Britain ranked third in the value of new arms agreements in 2004, while Israel made its first appearance in the top-five arms-selling list, with sales worth $1.2 billion for the year. The big advance by Israel was due to a one-off deal for India’s purchase of an airborne radar system, called ‘Phalcon’. Israel has grown steadily as an arms-supplier in recent years, but has promised Washington that it would stop selling military and dual-use high-technology equipment to China, which has been a lucrative market for the Israelis over the past decade.

In actual arms deliveries for 2004, the US dominated the market with nearly $18.6 billion worth of transfers — or 53.4 per cent of all deliveries to developing countries — far ahead of Russia, the number two supplier, with $4.6 billion in deliveries or France, which made $4.4 billion worth of arms transfers.

The report, ‘Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1997-2004’, is produced each year by CRS expert Richard Grimmett and widely considered to be one of the most authoritative sources on the conventional arms trade because it based on classified information as well as public data. One of its major findings is that the nearly $22 billion in new arms agreements signed between developed and developing countries last year marks a sharp increase over the previous year, when the total came to $15.1 billion. Last year’s sales were indeed the highest since the year 2000. Actual arms deliveries during the year were also the highest since 2000. Conventional arms sales to developing countries have generally accounted for between 55 per cent and 72 per cent of all arms globally. For the period 2001-2004, according to the report, developing countries received 57.3 per cent of all arms transfers. During the same period, they accounted for about 63.2 per cent of the value of all actual arms deliveries.

India on top

WASHINGTON: India was the world’s largest buyer of conventional weapons in 2004.

• India $15.7b

• China $15.3b

• the UAE $15.0b

• Egypt $12.8b

• Saudi Arabia $10.5b

• Israel $9.8b

• S Korea $8.2b