US still world’s biggest military spender as global expenditures approach $2 trillion
STUTTGART, Germany — The U.S. continues to drive growth in global military spending, which saw its largest annual increase in a decade as European countries also ramped up expenditures, a new report on defense spending said.
Global military spending rose by 3.6% year-on-year to reach $1.9 trillion in 2019, the highest level since the 2008 financial crisis gutted many military budgets, said the report released Sunday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Since 2010, global military spending has increased by 7.2%, it said.
The U.S. was by far the biggest spender, with its $732 billion military budget accounting for more than a third of global military spending last year and marking an increase of 5.3% compared with 2018, the report said.
“The increase in US spending in 2019 alone was equivalent to the entirety of Germany’s military expenditure for that year,” it said.
But Germany, which for years has faced harsh criticism from President Donald Trump for its lackluster investment in defense, also posted big gains. Spending by Berlin increased by 20% in 2019 to $49.3 billion — the largest increase among the top 15 military spenders, SIPRI said.
“The growth in German military spending can partly be explained by the perception of an increased threat from Russia, shared by many North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states,” SIPRI researcher Diego Lopes da Silva said in a statement.
There also were sharp increases in countries that made major weapons system acquisitions, such as Bulgaria, where military spending increased by 127%, and Romania, up by 17%.
China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia rounded out the top five behind the U.S. Together, they accounted for nearly two-thirds of global military spending.
China is estimated to have spent $261 billion on its military in 2019, or 14% of the global total and just over 5% more than in 2018. Compared with 2010, what China spent on its military has increased by 85%, the report said.
A 6.8% increase in India’s military spending in 2019 and a 16% decline in Saudi Arabia meant India moved into third place for the first time since SIPRI began tracking global military spending, the report said. SIPRI has been compiling its military spending database since 1949.
Russia’s spending increased by 4.5% compared with 2018, also pushing it past Saudi Arabia.
“The drop in military spending in 2019 was unexpected as Saudi Arabia continued its military operations in Yemen and, after a missile attack caused significant damage to its oil industry in September 2019, tensions with Iran increased,” SIPRI said.