Alternative weapon suppliers for the PH: how they fare
MANILA, Philippines – The purchase of over 26,000 assault rifles from the United States by the Philippine National Police (PNP) is in limbo after an American senator expressed his opposition to the transaction.
Reuters, in an article published on November 1, reported that Senator Ben Candin, a member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was “reluctant” to provide the weapons because of alleged human rights violations in the Philippines. (READ: US stops sale of assault rifles to PNP – report)
That's the latest hiccup between the PNP and the US as the San Francisco Police Department, in October, also announced the end of its long-running training program with the PNP.
PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, on November 1, said that he would ask President Rodrigo Duterte to allow him to talk to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to address the issue. He said that the reported failed sale would have a possible huge impact on the force. (READ: Dela Rosa wants DFA help after US halts rifle sale)
But a day after, on November 2, he downplayed the possible impact, saying that the halt in the weapons transaction is “their loss, not ours.”
Dela Rosa also said that the Philippines “has a lot of options” since there are other manufacturers who can supply the firearms that local authorities need. These countries, according to him, are Germany, Israel, Belgium, Russia, and China.
Three of the 5 countries Dela Rosa mentioned were identified as the biggest arms exporters in 2011 to 2015 by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). How do these countries rate as firearms suppliers?
China: Beefing up for maritime dispute?
China is the world’s third largest weapon supplier to different countries.
While the Asian giant accounted for only 5.9% of global arms exports from 2011 to 2015, it was still able to double its sales to 88%, according to SIPRI.
About 37 countries consistently bought weapons from China, with 75% of arms exports going to countries in Asia and Oceania. The exports to countries in this region from 2011 to 2015 were 139% higher than from 2006 to 2010.
The biggest buyers, meanwhile, are Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. From 2010 to 2014, Pakistan brought 35% of China's arms exports, while Bangladesh and Myanmar accounted for 20% and 16%, respectively.
Some of the arms supplied by China were armored vehicles and transport/trainer aircraft for Venezuela, frigates for Algeria, anti-ship missiles for Indonesia, and unmanned combat aerial vehicles for Nigeria, among others.
With its increasing sales, China was able to finance the development of its arms industry, particularly domestic weapons, as the county’s involvement in maritime disputes continues.
The country decreased by 25% its weapons importation, according to SIPRI, but noted that China is still dependent on other countries when it comes to large equipment such as aircraft and ships.
The largest supplier of China was Russia which accounted for 59% of the Asian giant’s arms imports.
With its renewed friendship with China, the Philippines will most likely consider it as a potential source of weapons. Dela Rosa, however, is concerned with “reliability.”
“Marami namang iba pang source like China," he said. “But when it comes to reliability and dependability, hindi tayo masyado sigurado,” he continued.
(There are many other sources like China. But when it comes to reliability and dependability, we aren’t too sure.)
Russia's 'reinvigorated' industry
Russia is the second largest weapons exporter in the world, accounting for 27% of global arms exports from 2011 to 2015. Compared to 2006-2010, Russia's weapons sale grew by 37% during the 2011-2015 interval, SIPRI showed.
Russian sales are pretty much concentrated, with 3 countries out of 50 – India, China, and Vietnam –accounting for a significant proportion of its arms exports. India received 39%, while China and Vietnam got 11% each.
When it comes to regional sales, 68% of Russia's arms exports went to Asia and Oceania, while Africa got 11% and the Middle East accounted for 8.2%. Europe, meanwhile, received 6.4%.
From 2011 to 2015, arms exports to Europe significantly increased by 264% with most deliveries made to Azerbaijan.
SIPRI also noted that Russia also supplied weapons to Ukraine rebel forces.
In 2015, 11 out of the top 100 companies producing weapons were Russian companies, a sign of its growing arms industry.
Germany: 5th largest arms supplier
Aside from being the 5th largest arms supplier in the world, Germany is also one of the top Western European suppliers that accounted for 21% of global arms transfers in 2011-2015.
However, on its own, Germany’s major weapons exports decreased by 51%.
Germany supplied 57 states with arms from 2011 to 2015, but its top recipients were also European countries accounting for 29%.
Other regions such as the US, Asia and Oceania, and the Middle East each accounted for 23% of Germany’s arms exports.
Notable sales made by Germany include patrol boats for Saudi Arabia, frigates for Israel, Type-209 submarines for Egypt, and armored personnel carriers for Algeria.
In 2014, however, Germany faced a decrease in exports as a government policy shift substantially reduced arms exports – particularly to the Middle East – due to human rights violations reported in countries there.
The conservative shift led to a decrease in approval of arms exports by the German government to Arab countries. From €2.1 billion (P113.6 billion)* in 2013, exports fell to €660 million (P35.7 billion) in 2014.
Belgium's world leaders in arms production
Despite being a small country, Belgium is one of the top 20 exporters of firearms in the world.
Its domination is often attributed to the existence of Belgian companies that are considered world leaders for certain types of firearms and ammunition.
For example, it is in Belgium where FN Herstal, the biggest exporter of military small arms in Europe, is based.
Weapons produced by this company are supplied to armed forces of at least 100 countries, according to World Policy Institute.
The firearms that FN Herstal designs and manufactures include the NATO standard M-16 assault rifle, M249 Minimi machine gun, FN MAG (NATO standard machine gun), and the P-90 submachine gun, among others.
In the late 1990s, however, Belgium faced a controversy after it delivered 500 P-90 machine guns and 500,000 rounds of ammunition to a private firm in Mexico. The P-90 machine guns were designed for the use of military, government, and law enforcement only due to their "lethality".
Belgium also pioneered the improvement of arms control and monitoring mechanisms in the European Union. For example, it incorporated into its domestic legislation in 2003 the EU code of conduct on arms exports, making it the first country to do so.
In recent years, however, Belgium has also been criticized for being a thriving black market for firearms.
Israel's 'security concerns'
Israel has been enjoying a steady stream of income with its arms exports.
Given the estimated less than $2 billion (P97.01 billion) worth of exports, the country is one of the top 15 biggest arms sellers in the world.
But most of Israel’s exports in 2015 were ammunition, drones, and aircrafts upgrades. One of its notable sales was the 10 armed Heron drones to India for $400 million (P19.4 billion).
Asian countries are the largest buyers of arms from Israel with an estimated $2.3 billion (P111.7 billion)-worth of weapons purchased in 2015. Sales to Northern American countries, meanwhile, reached $1.02 billion (P49.5 billion) while exports to European countries amounted to $1.6 billion (P51.5 billion).
Three large firms – Rafael, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and Elbit Systems – took care of 75% of the sales. Of the 3, Rafael and IAI are state-run companies.
The amount of Israel's arms deals are allegedly underreported. According to Haaretz, one of the leading newspapers in Israel, the government is inconsistent in disclosing information on its arms exports citing “security concerns.”
In the past 20 years, according to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, Israel was able to sell over 8,600 artillery systems, 17 tanks, 74 armed vehicles, 37 planes, and 2,500 missiles and missile launchers, among others.
The country-recipients include Romania, Vietnam, US, Mexico, India, Turkey, and Spain, among others. – Rappler.com
*$1 = P48, €1 = P54