The defence industry is booming in Latin America amid economic growth and greater concerns regarding national security, said the renowned security and defence consultancy firm IHS Jane's. Imports of weapons soared 16% in the subcontinent in 2008-2012, climbing from 3.42 billion to 3.96 billion dollars annually, the firm said in a report called The Balance of Trade.
The report said Venezuela imported some 1.2bn in 2012, surpassing Brazil, the country with the largest defence budget in the region. The document highlighted that the trend may continue even after the demise of former President Hugo Chávez.
IHS Jane's analyst Ben Moores said that Venezuela was halfway in its rearmament program and that it would be very costly to drop it.
The US remains the top defence supplier in the region, with 758.52 million dollars in 2012. But Russia, particularly thanks to sales to Venezuela, stood behind the US with 730.8 million.
In May, the Russian government weapons exporting firm Rosoboronex stated that Venezuela's arms contracts amounted to 11 billion dollars, thus turning Russia into the second largest seller of arms to the region.
Brazil has the largest defence budget with 30.6bn dollars in 2012, which is three times more than Colombia’s 12.9bn and more than five fold Mexico’s 5.8bn and Venezuela’s 5.5bn.