CATF Reports Feb. 23, 2017, 4:17pm


The worldwide transfer of weapons just reached the highest volume recorded since the close of the cold war in 1991. On Monday, February 20th, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published its latest report with data on international transfers of major weapons, indicating Asia/Oceania and the Middle East as top importers of weapons from 2007-2016 and accounting for 72 percent of total global arms imports. On the other hand, movement of weapons to Europe, the Americas and Africa decreased through that same span of time. 74 percent of the total volume of arms exports was shared by the United States, Russia, China, France and Germany.

Strikingly, the number of weapons imported by the tiny Gulf state of Qatar skyrocketed by 245 percent in comparison to the previous 2007-2011 assessment, followed closely by Saudi Arabia’s 212 percent upsurge. Total Middle Eastern arms imports grew by 86 percent. Senior Researcher at SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme, Pieter Wezeman, asserted that “despite low oil prices, countries in the region continued to order more weapons in 2016, perceiving them as crucial tools for dealing with conflicts and regional tensions”.

While accounting for nearly 43 percent of global imports from 2012-2016, Asia’s growth paled in comparison to the Middle East, with only a 7.7 percent weapons import increase. India gained the spot as the largest weapons buyer, comprising 13 percent of global imports over rivals China and Pakistan and a 43 percent jump since 2007-2011.

From the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute:

“The volume of international transfers of major weapons has grown continuously since 2004 and increased by 8.4 per cent between 2007–11 and 2012–16, according to new data on arms transfers published today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Notably, transfers of major weapons in 2012–16 reached their highest volume for any five-year period since the end of the cold war.

The flow of arms increased to Asia and Oceania and the Middle East between 2007–11 and 2012–16, while there was a decrease in the flow to Europe, the Americas and Africa. The five biggest exporters—the United States, Russia, China, France and Germany—together accounted for 74 per cent of the total volume of arms exports.”

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