A Swedish research institute predicts that the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will likely disrupt future military expenditures.
Rabat – The world’s total military expenditures rose to $1.917 trillion in 2019, representing a 3.6% growth from 2018–the largest annual growth in a decade, according to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) published today, April 27.
SIPRI noted that the figure represented 2.2% of the global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, or approximately $249 per person.
“Global military expenditure was 7.2% higher in 2019 than it was in 2010, showing a trend that military spending growth has accelerated in recent years,” said SIPRI Researcher Dr. Nan Tian.
“This is the highest level of spending since the 2008 global financial crisis and probably represents a peak in expenditure,” Tian added.
The United States leads the ranking as the largest military spender, recording an annual growth of 5.3% for a total of $732 billion in 2019. The country accounts for 38% of global military expenditures.
“The recent growth in US military spending is largely based on a perceived return to competition between the great powers,’ said SIPRI Senior Researcher Pieter D. Wezeman.
The second and third largest military spenders are found on the Asian continent, with China and India respectively spending $261 billion (+5.1%) and $71.1 billion (+6,8%).
“India’s tensions and rivalry with both Pakistan and China are among the major drivers for its increased military spending,” said Wezeman.
Russia ranked as the world’s fourth-largest military spender with an annual growth of 4.5% to $64.1 billion.
The largest Asian military spenders also include Japan and South Korea, with respective expenditures of $47.6 billion and $43.9 billion.
“At 3.9% of its GDP, Russia’s military spending burden was among the highest in Europe in 2019,” said Alexandra Kuimova, a researcher at the institute.
Germany was the fifth-largest-spender with a growth of 10% in 2019, totaling $49.3 billion.
‘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,” said Diego Lopes da Silva of SIPRI.
“At the same time, however, military spending by France and the United Kingdom remained relatively stable,” Da Silva elaborated
The US’ military expenditure growth in 2019 represents Germany’s total military expenditure for the same year.
The military expenditures in Africa also rose in 2019, by 1.5% to $41.2 billion.
SIPRI explained that “armed conflict is one of the main drivers for the volatile nature of military spending in sub-Saharan Africa.”
The research institute predicts that military expenditures will slow down as a result of the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
SIPRI said that it is monitoring current developments to assess the extent of the crisis’ impact on military spending.