The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) has released its annual update on arms exports and imports and I must say it makes for interesting reading.
India tops the arms importing countries for the fifth year in a row and in 2006 it wasn't terribly far down the list at fourth. But second place is more surprising: Australia. It has been moving steadily up the ranks since 2008 when it lay 21st, moving up to ninth in 2009 and third in 2010. Third place is held by Pakistan which has been up there in the top six since 2007. But the fourth, Morocco, has shot up the rankings. It had been below the 50 mark for at least the past five years (I didn't check the figures for all countries before 2006).
The United States, despite all the talk about it not importing weapons, lies in 11 place, a drop out of the top 10 where it had been for the past five years. In comparison, the UK is in 19th position, more or less consistent with its rankings since 2007 when it had remained basically in the mid-teens. France lies 64 (it had been in the mid-40s for the past few years except in 2008 when it dropped to 82).
Greece which has been a reliable arms importer for years dropped out of the top 20 in 2011 to 37 and, given its stringent budgetary constraints, is likely to drop even further in 2012. It has more or less swapped positions with Turkey, which has moved out of the top 20 where it had been since 2007 into the top 10, ranking ninth in 2011.
As for arms exporters (I just compared 2011 and 2010 here), the United States and Russia maintain first and second spots respectively, but France moves up to third (sixth in 2010), just ahead of China, which has held fourth place for the past two years. In 2011 Germany (fifth) snuck in just ahead of the UK but both have dropped down the rankings as Germany held third place last year and the UK fifth place. Israel drops out of the top 10 (ninth in 2010) to 11 place with the interceding positions held by Italy, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands. Neither Spain nor the Netherlands had made the top 10 in 2010 when they were ranked respectively 12 and 11.