Sweden's weapons exports rose by 31 percent in the last five years compared to the five previous years, while Asian countries lead the world when it comes to arms imports, new figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) show. Overall, Sweden accounts for about 2 percent of global arms exports.
Sweden Ranks Second in the World in Per Capita Weapons Exports
Institutions like the Nobel Prize have helped link Sweden’s international reputation to peace and reconciliation, but few people know Sweden is also one of the world’s top exporters of weapons. Sweden is among the world’s top arms exporters in per capita terms. Its clients include the United States and Britain, with shipments more than doubling since 2000.
Globally the volume of international transfers of major conventional weapons was 24 percent higher in the period 2007-11 compared to the 2002-06 period, the report said, meaning Sweden's arms exports have increased at a higher rate that the global average.
Over the past five years, Asia and Oceania accounted for 44 percent in volume of conventional arms imports, the institute said.
That compared with 19 percent for Europe, 17 percent for the Middle East, 11 percent for North and South America, and 9 percent for Africa, said the report.
India was the biggest arms importer in the period covered, 2007-11, accounting for 10 percent in weapons volume.
It was followed by South Korea (6 percent), China and Pakistan (both 5 percent), and Singapore (4 percent), according to the independent institute which specializes in arms control and disarmament matters.
These five countries accounted for almost a third, 30 percent, of the volume of international arms imports, said SIPRI.
"India's imports of major weapons increased by 38 percent between 2002-06 and 2007-11," SIPRI said.
"Notable deliveries of combat aircraft during 2007-11 included 120 Su-30MKs and 16 MiG-29Ks from Russia and 20 Jaguar Ss from the United Kingdom," it said.
While India was the world's largest importer, its neighbour and sometime foe Pakistan was the third largest.
Pakistan took delivery of "a significant quantity of combat aircraft during this period: 50 JF-17s from China and 30 F-16s," the report added.
Both countries "have taken and will continue to take delivery of large quantities of tanks," it also noted.
"Major Asian importing states are seeking to develop their own arms industries and decrease their reliance on external sources of supply," said Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme.
China, which in 2006 and 2007 was the world's top arms importer, has now dropped to fourth place.
"The decline in the volume of Chinese imports coincides with the improvements in China's arms industry and rising arms exports," according to the report.
But "while the volume of China's arms exports is increasing, this is largely a result of Pakistan importing more arms from China," it added.
"China has not yet achieved a major breakthrough in any other significant market."
China is however the sixth largest world exporter of weapons behind the United States, Russia, Germany, France and Britain.
And despite the rise in Sweden's arms exports, the country slipped from tenth to eleventh place in a ranking of major weapons exporters.
"Spain has overtaken Sweden due to a few large naval orders that Spain received. But Sweden's weapons exports nevertheless remain strong," SIPRI researcher Mark Bromley told the Dagens Nyhter (DN) newspaper.
Overall, Sweden accounts for about 2 percent of global arms exports.
In Europe, Greece was the largest importer between 2007 and 2011, the institute said.
Between 2002 and 2011, Syria increased its imports of weapons by 580 percent -- the bulk supplied by Russia -- while Venezuela boosted its imports over the same period by 555 percent, it reported.
Throughout the Middle East as a whole, weapons imports decreased by eight percent over the period of the survey.
However SIPRI warned "this trend will soon be reversed."
Tunisia, where mass protests ousted strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali early last year, launched the so-called Arab Spring and inspired similar movements in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere.
"During 2011, the governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Syria used imported weapons in the suppression of peaceful demonstrations among other alleged violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
"The transfer of arms to states affected by the Arab Spring has provoked public and parliamentary debate in a number of supplier states," the report said.
The volume of deliveries of "major conventional weapons" to African nations increased by a massive 110 percent in 2007-2011 over the previous five-year period, with deliveries to North Africa up by 273 percent.
Morocco saw its own imports increase by 443 percent, the report added