NEW DELHI: India was the world’s secondlargest arms importer from 2014-18, ceding the long-held tag as largest importer to Saudi Arabia, which accounted for 12% of the total imports during the period. “India was the world’s second largest importer of major arms in 2014-18 and accounted for 9.5% of the global total,” according to the latest report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on March 11. But India’s defence equipment imports decreased by 24% between 2009-13 and 2014-18, partly due to delays in deliveries of arms produced under licence from foreign suppliers, such as combat aircraft ordered from Russia in 2001 and submarines ordered from France in 2008, the report said. Russia accounted for 58% of Indian arms imports in 2014-18, compared with 76% in 2009-13. Israel, the US and France all increased their arms exports to India in 2014-18. However, the Russian share in Indian imports is likely to go up sharply during the next five-year period as India signed several big-ticket deals recently, and more are in the pipeline. These include S-400 air defence systems, four stealth frigates, AK-203 assault rifles, a second nuclear attack submarine on lease, and deals for Kamov-226T utility helicopters, Mi-17 helicopters and short-range air defence systems. The report noted that despite the long-standing conflict between India and Pakistan, arms imports decreased for both countries in 2014-18 compared with 2009-13. Pakistan stood at the 11th position, accounting for 2.7% of all global imports. Its biggest source was China, from which 70% of arms were sourced, followed by the US at 8.9% and, interestingly, Russia at 6%. Globally, the volume of international transfers of major arms in 2014-18 was 7.8% higher than in 2009-13 and 23% higher than in 2004-08.
The five largest exporters in 2014-18 were the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China, which together accounted for 75% of the total volume of arms exports in 2014-18. China, which has emerged as a major arms exporter, has increased its share by 2.7% for 2014-18 compared to 2009-13. Its biggest customers are Pakistan and Bangladesh. As Indian imports reduced, Russian exports of major arms were dented, decreasing by 17% between 2009-13 and 2014-18. The report said this was partly due to “general reductions in Indian and Venezuelan arms imports”, which have been among the main recipients of Russian arms exports in previous years.