World military expenditure passes USD 2 trillion for 1st time; US on top: SIPRI
London: The global military expenditure has crossed the USD 2 trillion mark for the first time, with the US, the world’s largest economy, being the top spender, Sweden-based defence think-tank SIPRI said on Monday.
In its latest report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said that the total global military expenditure increased by 0.7 per cent in real terms in 2021, to reach USD 2,113 billion.
The five largest spenders in 2021 were the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom and Russia, together accounting for 62 per cent of expenditure, it said.
The report said that the world military spending continued to grow in 2021, reaching an all-time high of USD 2.1 trillion.
This was the seventh consecutive year that the spending on the military has increased, it said.
Even amid the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, world military spending hit record levels, said Dr Diego Lopes da Silva, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.
There was a slowdown in the rate of real-terms growth due to inflation. In nominal terms, however, military spending grew by 6.1 per cent, the report issued by the Stockholm-based defence think-tank said.
As a result of a sharp economic recovery in 2021, the global military burden — world military expenditure as a share of world gross domestic product (GDP) — fell by 0.1 percentage point from 2.3 per cent in 2020 to 2.2 per cent in 2021.
The report said that the US military spending amounted to USD 801 billion in 2021, a drop of 1.4 per cent from 2020.
The US military burden decreased slightly from 3.7 per cent of GDP in 2020 to 3.5 per cent in 2021.
US funding for military research and development (R&D) rose by 24 per cent between 2012 and 2021, while arms procurement funding fell by 6.4 per cent over the same period.
In 2021 spending on both decreased. However, the drop in R&D spending ( 1.2 per cent) was smaller than that in arms procurement spending ( 5.4 per cent).
The increase in R&D spending over the decade 2012 21 suggests that the United States is focusing more on next-generation technologies, said Alexandra Marksteiner, Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.
The US Government has repeatedly stressed the need to preserve the US military’s technological edge over strategic competitors .
Meanwhile, Russia increased its military expenditure by 2.9 per cent in 2021 to USD 65.9 billion at a time when it was building up its forces along the Ukrainian border, the SIPRI report said.
This was the third consecutive year of growth and Russia’s military spending reached 4.1 per cent of GDP in 2021.
High oil and gas revenues helped Russia to boost its military spending in 2021. Russian military expenditure had been in decline between 2016 and 2019 as a result of low energy prices combined with sanctions in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, said Lucie B raud-Sudreau, Director of SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme.
The national defence’ budget line, which accounts for around three-quarters of Russia’s total military spending and includes funding for operational costs as well as arms procurement, was revised upwards over the course of the year.
The final figure was USD 48.4 billion, 14 per cent higher than had been budgeted at the end of 2020.
As it has strengthened its defences against Russia, Ukraine’s military spending has risen by 72 per cent since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Spending fell in 2021, to USD 5.9 billion, but still accounted for 3.2 per cent of the country’s GDP.
China, the world’s second-largest spender, allocated an estimated USD 293 billion to its military in 2021, an increase of 4.7 per cent compared with 2020, the report said.
China’s military spending has grown for 27 consecutive years.
The 2021 Chinese budget was the first under the 14th Five-Year Plan, which runs until 2025, the report said.
India’s military expenditure increased to USD 76.6 billion in 2021, marking a 0.9 per cent hike over the 2020 figures, it said.
“India’s military expenditure of USD 76.6 billion in 2021 was the third highest in the world. Its spending was up by 0.9 per cent from 2020 and by 33 per cent from 2012,” the report issued by the Stockholm-based defence think-tank said.
Following initial approval of its 2021 budget, the Japanese government added USD 7.0 billion to military spending, the report said, adding that as a result, spending rose by 7.3 per cent, to USD 54.1 billion in 2021, the highest annual increase since 1972.
Eight European North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members reached the Alliance’s target of spending 2 per cent or more of GDP on their armed forces in 2021. This is one fewer than in 2020 but up from two in 2014.
Germany, the third largest spender in Central and Western Europe, spent USD 56.0 billion on its military in 2021, or 1.3 per cent of its GDP. Military spending was 1.4 per cent lower compared with 2020 due to inflation, the report added.