Nevertheless, Asia and Oceania was the biggest region for arms imports, accounting for 42 percent of the global total between 2013 and 2017, the institute calculated.
The volume of major weapons' global transfers rose 10 percent in the period between 2013 and 2017, compared to 2008-2012, according to a report by the Stockholm worldwide Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday.
"Based on deals signed during the (former U.S. President Barack) Obama administration, U.S. arms deliveries in 2013-2017 reached their highest level since the late 1990s", said Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program. The SIPRI report notes that while European Union member-states and the USA have imposed arms embargoes due to the use of force against the Rohingyas, China is the main weapons supplier. The US negotiated a package of about $110 billion in arms sales during Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia in May a year ago.
A SIPRI report on trends in worldwide arms transfers also reflects the changing geopolitics of South Asia, with sales of weapons to Pakistan by the United States dropping by a significant 76 per cent in the past five years. Russia, the next biggest exporter, saw its arms sales fall 7,1 percent to 22% of global exports compared with the five years to 2012.
Few countries outside North America and Europe are large exporters of arms.
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The share of top arms exporter, the USA, rose to 34 percent in 2013-2017 from 30 percent in 2008-2012, it said.
In 2013-17 Saudi Arabia was the world's second largest arms importer, with arms imports increasing by 225 per cent compared with 2008-12. Dhaka procured 71% of its arms from China over the five-year period, and Myanmar 68%. More than half of Russian exports were directed to India, China and Vietnam.
But in cases where United States relations with other countries had deteriorated the result was a fall in arms transfers.
"China, by contrast, is becoming increasingly capable of producing its own weapons and continues to strengthen its relations with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar through arms supplies", he said.