South Korea is planning to increase its annual weapons exports 16-fold to $4bn by 2020.

The government will transfer defence technology to potential buyers and explore ways to finance purchases in a move to help lift arms exports, a presidential office statement said.

The statement said it will encourage mergers among small weapons manufacturers to raise their competitiveness.

The government earmarked KRW31.3tn ($28bn) budget plan for defence for 2011 includes a 12.5% increase in expenditure on development of weapons such as drones and attack helicopters, according to Bloomberg.

South Korean President Lee Myung Bak’s administration has plans to expand total arms production to $10bn from $6.6bn by 2020.

South Korea could become one of the world’s top ten weapons suppliers if it achieves the proposed targets, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.