On April 29th, The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published its report on global military expenditure for 2018.
The total world military expenditure rose to $1.8 trillion in 2018, a 2.6% increase from 2017. It accounted for 2.1% of Global GDP in 2018.
The five biggest spenders in 2018 were the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, India and France, which together accounted for 60 per cent of global military spending.
Total military expenditure by all 29 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members was $963 billion in 2018, which accounted for 53 per cent of world spending
Spending by the US went up for the first time since 2010, while the one for China rose for the 24th year in a row.
Similarly to 2017, the spending for 2018 is the highest ever since tracking began in 1988. World spending is now 76 per cent higher than the post-cold war low in 1998.
‘In 2018 the USA and China accounted for half of the world’s military spending,’ says Dr Nan Tian, a researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure (AMEX) programme. ‘The higher level of world military expenditure in 2018 is mainly the result of significant increases in spending by these two countries.’
US spending grew by 4.6% to $649 billion in 2018. The USA remained by far the largest spender in the world, and spent almost as much on its military in 2018 as the next eight largest-spending countries combined.
‘The increase in US spending was driven by the implementation from 2017 of new arms procurement programmes under the Trump administration,’ says Dr Aude Fleurant, the director of the SIPRI AMEX programme. The US accounts for 36% of global military spending.
China is the second largest spender at $250 billion and its spending went up by 5%. Its spending in 2018 was almost 10 times higher than in 1994, and accounted for 14 per cent of world military spending.
‘Growth in Chinese military spending tracks the country’s overall economic growth,’ says Tian. ‘China has allocated 1.9 per cent of its GDP to the military every year since 2013.’
Saudi Arabia came in 3rd and spent $67.6 billion, which accounts for 3.7% of global military spending.
India came 4th with a spending of $66.5 billion.
France came in 5th, despite a 1.4% decrease in military spending, it spent $63.8 billion.
Russia fell from its 4th place in 2017 to 6th in 2018. It spent $61.4 billion and ranked outside the top 5 for the first time since 2006.
Japan ranked 9 and spent $46.6 billion, its military spending went down by 0.1% from 2017. Its military strength as a share of GDP is 0.9%.
Iran’s military expenditure in 2018 was $13.2 billion and went down from 2017 by 9.5%. This is also largely due to economic recess due to US sanctions, which saw inflation rise from 10% in 2017 to 30% in 2018.
Israel’s military spending was $15.9 billion in 2018, a marginal increase of 0.7 per cent compared with 2017. After a peak in 2015—related to military operations in 2014 in the Gaza Strip—Israeli military expenditure decreased by 13 per cent in 2016 and by 1.0 per cent in 2017.
Out of the top 15 countries, Turkey’s spending increased the most – 24% to $19 billion.
Six of the 10 countries with the highest military burden (military spending as a proportion of GDP) in the world in 2018 are in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia (8.8%), Oman (8.2%), Kuwait (5.1%), Lebanon (5%), Jordan (4.7%t) and Israel (4.3%).
The top 15 global military spenders were the exact same as those in 2017, but with shuffled positions.
Total military spending increased in the Americas (by 4.4 per cent), Asia and Oceania (by 3.3 per cent) and Europe (by 1.4 per cent) between 2017 and 2018. The rise in military spending in 2018 in the Americas was the first since 2010, while the rise in Europe, which experienced fluctuating levels of spending between 2009 and 2018, was the sixth annual increase in the past decade. In Asia and Oceania, spending has risen every year since reliable regional estimates became available in 1988. In contrast, military expenditure in Africa fell for the fourth consecutive year in 2018. Overall military spending by states in the Middle East for which data is available also fell in 2018, by 1.9 per cent
In terms of relative increase, the countries that increased their spending the most between 2017 include numerous Eastern European and Baltic countries: Armenia increased its spending by 33%, Bosnia and Herzegovina by 26%, Latvia by 24%, Bulgaria by 23%, Lithuania by 18%, Romania by 18%. Ukraine increased its spending by 21%.
In terms of relative reduction, South Sudan and Sudan topped the list by a reduction of respectively 50% and 49%. Iraq and Iran saw a significant decrease by respectively 16% and 9.5%.
Overall, military expenditure increased in Central America and the Caribbean, Central Europe, Central and South Asia, East Asia, North America, South America, and Western Europe.
Military expenditure decreased in Eastern Europe, North Africa, Oceania, South East Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. The total military expenditure of the countries in the Middle East for which data is available also decreased.