Turkey joins world’s top five weapons importers

Turkey joins world’s top five weapons importers

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey joins world’s top five weapons importers

Despite increasing imports, armored vehicles, like locally produced BMC’s Kirpi in this photo, account for a large portion of Turkey’s defense exports. DHA photo

Turkey has become the fourth-largest comventional weapons importer of the world, a Swedish think tank revealed, despite ongoing attempts by the country to shift the balance in favor of arms exports by supporting research and development projects.

Turkey’s weapon imports rose to $1.2 billion last year, up from $900 million the previous year, putting it in fourth place after India, China and the United States, respectively, according to data recording major arms transactions worldwide collected by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The report on “Trends in the Arms Industry” showed that Turkey jumped to fourth place from its ranking of 13th place a year earlier. The U.S. and China also made similar bounds to the head of the table, up to third and second place, respectively. The previous year had seen the U.S. rank number 12, while China came in at number 11. The report reveals the biggest arms supplier to Turkey remains the U.S., which has sold $772 million worth of weapons, while Spain and France appear as new arms trade partners of the country.

France has sold $10 million worth of industrial defense products, while Spain has sold $111 million worth. According to the database, the purchase of French weapons marks a first since 2003 for the Turkish defense industry, despite France having been a close trading partner up until that time.

The report came on the announcement of French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian ‘s visit to Turkey on March 28 and 29, as a guest of Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz to discuss cooperation oppportunities between two countries in the defense field, while the defense industry tenders will be at the top.

French companies had found themselves in a disadvantageous position in Turkish defense industry tenders due to political disputes between two countries stemming from French parliamentary bills recognizing Armenian genocide claims from 1915.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s exports, the figure that representatives of the country have been watching most keenly, remained largely the same in the overall ranking, moving up only one place to become the 24th largest exporter globally, up from 25th in 2011.

Turkey has recently accelerated attempts to boost its arms exports, especially to Middle Eastern countries, by developing locally produced systems and allocating high amounts of investments to research and development studies.