World's Largest Importers Of Arms

Cargo ships in India.
Cargo ships in India.

The international arms trade, facilitated by increased globalization, is lucrative, owing to little legal control.The market involves the manufacture, selling, buying, and licensing of military equipment, weapons, and facilities such as small arms, armored vehicles, military ships, ammunition, and military aircraft. Importations are mainly driven by economic growth, territorial disputes, and political alignments. Most of the importing countries buy arms from more developed countries with high-tech capabilities to engineer high-quality arsenals.

World's Largest Importers Of Arms


India has experienced a surge in economic growth in recent years. Increased resources to buy arms have made it the world’s largest importer of weapons. India’s military for years has experienced a shortage of arms after the Soviet era and has been on a quest to restock it. Between 2012-2016, India imported 18 billion dollars worth of arms. These efforts have been aimed to boost its influence in the region amidst growing tensions with China.

Saudi Arabia 

Recent conflicts have torn apart a number of Saudi Arabia's neighbors, namely Syria and Yemen. Saudi Arabia has sought to attain a strategic role in the region and has also intervened in some of its conflict-ridden neighbors such as Yemen. Saudi Arabia also feels threatened by Iran especially with looming alliances between Iran and the US. Saudi Arabia is an oil-rich country with plenty of resources at its disposal to purchase sophisticated machinery and ammunition. The primary source for its arms are the US, the UK, and France.

United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is an oil-rich country in the Middle-East and is the third largest importer of weapons taking 4.6% of the global market. The UAE has attempted to exert its influence and take up a strategic role in the region by importing weaponry such as aircraft and missiles mostly from the US and France. 


China takes its place as the fourth-largest importer of weapons. China has established itself as an emerging economy in Asia, becoming an exporter of global arms to poorer nations as well. China has sought to assert its influence over the region and stamp out threats especially from India.Arms imported to China have been on a decrease, due to the expansion of its local industry in military capabilities and has had to rely on more developed countries for certain types of machinery such as large aircraft, submarines, and engines for vehicles and warplanes. W

Other Nations Importing Large Volumes Of Military Armaments

Other countries taking up their fair shares in the global importation of weapons are Australia, Algeria, Turey, and Iraq. Global spending on the importation of arms is expected to increase fueled by the emergence of middle-class economies. Middle-East countries are projected to increase their volume of imports. Global attention is also being called for more stringent laws to govern the importation of arms. The increase in wars and conflicts has been attributed to countries being able to import arms with ease.

World's Largest Importers Of Arms

RankCountryArms Imported (Millions of Dollars)
2Saudi Arabia11,689

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