Global weapons transfers declined for the first time in six years in 2007, although there are few signs of a long-term effect on the defence industry, an independent research body says.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), weapons transfers, excluding small-arms sales, dropped eight percent over the year.

The biggest weapons importers between 2003 and 2007 were China, India, The UAE, Greece and South Korea.

The biggest exporters were the United States, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

Chinese imports from Russia fell 62 percent in 2007, which SIPRI researcher Paul Holtom says may be a sign of Russia reluctance to pass on technology that could be copied and resold in its other markets.

China also replaced a lot of equipment at the beginning of the decade, leading to a natural decline in purchase now, Holtom says.

He says the decline in transfers is unlikely to affect the worldwide market, as countries such as Saudi Arabia and Taiwan may be poised to place large weapons orders.

“Although China may be dropping off, a number of other major recipients look as if they are going to be heading up the charts,” Holtom says.

By staff writer