BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2017/09

A report published last month by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) finds that the volume of international arms trade in the five-year period 2012–2016 was 8 % higher than in the previous 2007–2011 period. The US share of global arms trade rose in the most recent fiver-year period to 33 %, while Russian fell slightly to 23 %. China's arms exports have soared, with the country consolidating its position as the world's third-largest supplier of arms with a 6 % share of the global arms trade. With a nearly 5 % share of arms imports, China is also the world's fourth-largest arms buyer even if the volume of imports has fallen. The world's largest arms buyers are India (13 %), Saudi Arabia (8 %) and the United Arab Emirates (5 %).

The volume of Chinese arms exports grew by 74 % from 2007–2011 to 2012–2016. Over a third of Chinese arms exports went to Pakistan, nearly a fifth to Bangladesh and 10 % to Myanmar. China's arms exports to Africa grew fastest, with the continent accounting for 22 % of China's total arms exports. China exported arms to 44 countries over the past five years. For the first time, its customer base included countries of the former Soviet Union.

Even with booming weapons production industries, China continues to import e.g. freight carriers, helicopters, ships, and engines for aircraft and other vehicles. Russia supplied 57 % of China's arms imports, Ukraine 16 % and France 15 %.

Russian arms exports rose 5 % in the research period. With its 38 % share, India was by far Russia's largest arms client. The next closest arms-buyers were Vietnam and China, each with 11 % shares. Russia exported weapons to 50 countries and the rebels in eastern Ukraine. 68 % of exports went to the Asia and Pacific region, 12 % to Africa (Algeria 10 %), the Middle East 8 % and Europe 6 %.