Friday, March 6, 2009

Asia to lead world arms spending by 2016

Asia is expected to outstrip the rest of the world in defence spending within seven years as China and India upgrade their armed forces, a research consultancy said here on Thursday. Asia’s overall defence budget will account for 32 per cent of global military spending by 2016, or 480 billion US dollars, up from 24 per cent in 2007, Frost and Sullivan’s regional director for defence practice Ratan Shrivastava said. North America, the biggest defence spender in 2007 with 39 percent of the world arms market, will see its share fall to 29 per cent or 435 billion dollars, he said at a conference organised by the company.

In India, about 100 billion dollars will be spent on defence procurement over the next five years, said Shrivastava. “Moving forward, we feel that the focus will shift from North America to Asia Pacific markets,” he said. “This shift will happen by the growth of Asian economies, primarily China who will be driving it... and India will emerge as one of the biggest importers of weapons and technology systems.” The current global economic crisis will not dampen national defence spending, said Shrivastava.

“No country will risk its security for the sake of saving a few million dollars,” he told AFP. “Defence spending is a long-term recession-proof industry which is not really affected by cyclical downturns and upturns.” Shrivastava said there were limited details available about the nature of China’s defence spending but estimated Beijing’s arms budget would increase from 120 billion dollars in 2007 to 255 billion dollars by 2016. China’s growing military spending in recent years has come in for increasing criticism, particularly from the United States and its allies. At its annual meeting of parliament, which began Thursday, China announced its defence spending in 2009 will grow 15.3 per cent to 472.9 billion yuan (69 billion dollars) but insisted the bigger military spending posed no threat to the world. “China’s limited military powers will be solely used for the purpose of safeguarding its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the National People’s Congress. “This will not pose a threat to any country,” he said at a parliamentary press conference.

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