According to the annual report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, global defence spending hit US$1.92 trillion in 2019, a 3.6 per cent increase over previous year figures and the largest increase in one year since 2010.
“Global military expenditure was 7.2 percent higher in 2019 than it was in 2010, showing a trend that military spending growth has accelerated in recent years,” SIPRI’s Nan Tian said in a statement.
“This is the highest level of spending since the 2008 global financial crisis and probably represents a peak in expenditure.”
Large increases year on year were seen in China with 5.1 per cent growth, India 6.8 per cent, Russia 4.5 per cent, Germany 10 per cent, and South Korea 7.5 per cent.
SIPRI is seen as the authority on defence expenditure and its data is considered the most reliable in the area.
The US is still by far the largest spender on defence with its $732 billion representing 38 per cent of global military spending, SIPRI has reported. That was followed by China ($261 billion, at 14 per cent of global total), India ($71.1 billion, at 3.7 per cent), Russia ($65.1 billion, at 3.4 per cent) and Saudi Arabia ($61.9 billion, at 3.2 per cent).
Other key developments cited by SIPRI researchers are as follows:
- Together, the top 15 countries spent $1.55 trillion, 81 per cent of global military spending. All but three countries in the top 15 had higher military expenditures in 2019 than in 2010, the exceptions being the US (15 per cent drop), the UK (15 per cent drop) and Italy (11 per cent drop).
- Total military expenditures of the 11 countries in the Middle East for which data is available decreased by 7.5 per cent to $147 billion, driven in part by an estimated 16 per cent drop from Saudi Arabia. That overall percentage also decreased in 2018. SIPRI was unable to calculate totals from Qatar, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
- Military spending in South America was relatively unchanged from the previous year, coming in at $52.8 billion. Fifty-one per cent of that spending, $26.9 billion, came from Brazil.
- Combined military expenditures from Africa grew by 1.5 per cent to an estimated $41.2 billion in 2019, the first time that region saw a spending increase in five years. That includes plus-ups in Burkina Faso (22 per cent), Cameroon (1.4 per cent), Mali (3.6 per cent), the Central African Republic (8.7 per cent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (16 per cent) and Uganda (52 per cent).
- Of the 149 countries SIPRI studied, 10 allocated 4 per cent or more of their gross domestic product to the military, which the group defines as the “military burden”. Thirteen countries had a military burden of 3 to 3.9 per cent of GDP; 24 had a military burden of 2 to 2.9 per cent; 65 had a military burden of 1 to 1.9 per cent, and 34 allocated less than 1 per cent of their GDP to the military.
- Three countries had no military expenditures in 2019: Costa Rica, Iceland and Panama.