Global military expenditure reached its highest level last year since the end of the Cold War, fueled by increased spending in the United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies, a leading defense think-tank said yesterday.
In its annual report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said overall global military spending in 2018 hit $1.82 trillion, up 2.6 percent on the previous year. That is the highest figure since 1988, when such data first became available as the Cold War began winding down.
U.S. military spending rose 4.6 percent last year to reach $649 billion, leaving it still by far the world’s biggest spender. It accounted for 36 percent of total global military expenditure, nearly equal to the following eight biggest-spending countries combined, SIPRI said.
China, the second biggest spender, saw military expenditure rise 5.0 percent to $250 billion last year, the 24th consecutive annual increase. “In 2018 the USA and China accounted for half of the world’s military spending,” Nan Tian, a researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure (AMEX) program, said.
With President Donald Trump committed to strong national defense despite reducing U.S. troops numbers in conflict zones such as Afghanistan, 2018 marked the first increase in U.S. military spending since 2010, SIPRI said. His defense spending request to Congress this year is the largest ever in dollar terms before adjustment for inflation. “The increase in U.S. spending was driven by the implementation from 2017 of new arms procurement programs under the Trump administration,” Aude Fleurant, the director of the SIPRI AMEX program, said in a statement.