India remained the world’s top arms and weapon systems importer, with 30 percent of it coming from France which has unseated the United States of America (USA) to become the second largest supplier to New Delhi, said a Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report released on Monday.

Despite leading amongst the group of arms-importing nations, India’s defence imports declined by 11 per cent between 2013–17 and 2018–22 due to “complex procurement process, efforts to diversify arms suppliers and attempts to replace imports with local designs,” the SIPRI finding on global military spending stated.

India is followed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Australia and China, highlighted SIPRI on the basis of global data and deals.

Growing ties with Paris

The United States and France have emerged as the main beneficiaries of the Russia-Ukraine war. While Russian arms exports to India, which is one of the largest recipients of defence equipment since Soviet era, fell by 37 percent, the void created is being filled by France. SIPRI report also seconds New Delhi’s growing ties with Paris, as the data clearly points out that “India received 30 per cent of France’s arms exports in 2018–22, and France displaced the USA as the second largest supplier of arms to India after Russia”.

The report observed that five arms exporting countries -- other than top three USA, Russia and France -- saw their sales falling. China’s decline is 23 percent, Germany-35 percent, the United Kingdom- 35 percent, Spain-4.4 percent and Israel-15 percent.

The two nations who bucked the trend with impressive increase in export are South Korea with 74 percent and Italy with 45 percent.

Rise in European transfers

“Even as arms transfers have declined globally, those to Europe have risen sharply due to the tensions between Russia and most other European states,” said Pieter D Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, European states want to import more arms, faster, it emphasised.

Overall, US arms exports increased by 14 per cent between 2013–17 and 2018–22. And the USA accounted for 40 per cent of global arms exports in 2018–22. While Russia’s arms exports fell by 31 per cent between 2013–17 and 2018–22, and its share of global arms exports decreased from 22 per cent to 16 per cent, while France’s share increased from 7.1 per cent to 11 per cent, the SIPRI observed. The Putin administration, however, has been able to sell arms 39 percent more to China and 44 percent to Egypt, and they became Russia’s second and third largest recipients.

The other hand, imports by Pakistan have gone by 14 per cent, with China being its main supplier, the SIPRI findings stated.

According to the report, the arms race is visible in Asia and Oceania as a whole, which received 41 per cent of major arms transfers in 2018–22, though a slightly smaller share than in 2013–17. Six states -- India, Australia, China, South Korea, Pakistan and Japan -- in the region were among the 10 largest importers globally in 2018–22, it stated. “Growing perceptions of threats from China and North Korea have driven rising demand for arms imports by Japan, South Korea and Australia, notably including for long-range strike weapons,” said Siemon T. Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. The main supplier for all three is the USA.