The Indian government on Sunday said it would halt imports of more than 100 items of military equipment in a bid to boost its economy and boost confidence in arms production.
India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh said the government is planning to gradually implement the embargo on selected military imports by at least 2024.
Among the military equipment are high-tech weapon systems ranging from assault rifles and artillery to transporting light aircraft and combat helicopters, Singh said in a statement.
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“Our goal is to approve the Indian defense industry in relation to the envisaged requirements of the Armed Forces so that they are better prepared to accomplish the goal of indigenization,” Singh wrote on Twitter. “This is a big step towards self-confidence in defense.”
In May, India announced that global companies could invest up to 74% in the country’s defense manufacturing units, up from 49%, without seeking any government approval. It was hoped that the new policy would attract foreign companies with high-tech technology to establish their bases in the country in cooperation with domestic industries.
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The government later announced that India would stop importing weapons that could be made domestically, in line with the vision to make the Indian economy rely in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
India, a major buyer of military equipment, depended largely on the former Soviet Union during the Cold War. But she has been diversifying her purchases by also choosing American equipment.
During President Trump’s visit in February, the two countries signed an agreement for India to purchase more than $ 3 billion worth of advanced military equipment, including helicopters.
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India was the third largest military winner in the world last year after the US and China, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in a report released in April.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.