China joined the world's top-five arms suppliers while remaining the second largest arms importer between 2008 and 2012, a Swedish-based research institute said Monday, DPA reported.
India kept its spot as the world's leading arms importer, accounting for 12 per cent of global arms, twice as much as China, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said.
Later Monday, countries will enter the final round of talks on an arms trade treaty at the United Nations headquarters in New York. A final draft has been pending since last year, when talks broke down and the US, China and Russia called for a delay.
The Swedish report was issued on the eve of the talks.
In addition to China, the top five suppliers of arms included the United States, Russia, Germany and France.
A trend SIPRI observed in the period was growing interest in drones used for reconnaissance and military strikes. Twelve countries delivered drones to at least 31 countries in 2008-2012, compared to the 20 countries that took deliveries from eight countries 2003-2007.
Israel, the US and Italy were main suppliers of drones, while Pakistan and the UAE were top importers.
The United States and Russia accounted for over half the world's arms transfers during the period. The volume of world arms transfers increased in the period by 17 per cent compared to 2003-2007.
India's main suppliers - in addition to Russia, which accounted for 79 per cent of India's imports - were Britain and Uzbekistan.
Asia was also home to the other top-four importers in the period: China, Pakistan, South Korea and Singapore.
The US accounted for 30 per cent of global arms exports in the period, selling arms to over 80 countries. South Korea, along with Australia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), were the three main importers of US arms, the updated SIPRI Arms Transfer Database said.
Aircraft remained a mainstay in US export volumes during the period, accounting for 62 per cent.
Russia's share of global arms sales was on 26 per cent, and was the main supplier to China.
Germany was the world's third largest arms exporter, with 7 per cent of transfers. Main German markets were Greece, South Korea and Turkey. France was the fourth largest exporter on 6 per cent, while China replaced Britain in fifth place.
"China's rise has been driven primarily by large-scale acquisitions by Pakistan," said Mark Bromley of the SIPRI Arms Transfer Programme.
SIPRI said Pakistan was likely to remain a major importer of Chinese arms, citing pending deliveries and orders for combat aircraft, submarines and frigates.
Myanmar, Bangladesh, Venezuela and Morocco were other large importers of arms from China, the institute reported.
The financial crisis in Europe was reflected in reductions of orders for jet fighters and other systems, SIPRI said. Attempts to sell surplus equipment from Europe were likely to increase.
The SIPRI Arms Transfers Database, which does not include small arms, is based on public sources ranging from national and regional newspapers to specialized international journals, as well as government and industry reports.
SIPRI said it used a five-year cycle to even out fluctuations caused by a big order during any specific year.
The SIPRI database reflects volumes and is not designed to specify the financial value of sales, partly due to the constraints of using and comparing data, the institute said.