US, China and Saudi Arabia top list of military spending

Research institute says world military expenditure in 2017 reached highest level since Cold War end, at $1.739 trillion.

    Global military spending rose last year to its highest level since the Cold War, with the United States, China and Saudi Arabia topping the list, according to a Swedish-based research institute. 

    In a report published on Wednesday, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimated that world military expenditure totalled $1.73tn in 2017, up 1.1 percent the year before. 

    The US remained the world's largest spender with $610bn, unchanged year-on-year. The US accounted for 35 percent of global military expenditures, more than the next seven highest-spending countries combined.

    Its defence budget is also expected to increase significantly this year.

    China, in second place, was estimated to have spent $228bn, and according to SIPRI accounted for the largest absolute increase in spending: $12bn as measured in constant 2016 prices.

    The defence think-tank said it estimated that China's share of global spending had doubled since 2008 to 13 percent.

    Saudi Arabia replaced Russia in third place, spending $69.4bn in 2017.

    But while global military spending rose one percent to $1.739bn last year, Russia's spending, meanwhile, dropped by 20 percent in real terms to $66.3bn. It was the first drop since 1998. SIPRI attributed the drop to factors such as falling oil prices.

    India edged France to take fifth place, spending almost $64bn. France ($57.8), the UK ($47.2bn), Japan ($45.4bn), Germany ($44.3bn) and South Korea ($39.2bn) were the other countries in the top 10 military spenders.

    'Cause of serious concern'

    Overall, all 29 NATO allies spent $900bn on the military in 2017, which accounts for 52 percent of total world spending, SIPRI said.

    Military spending in both central and Western Europe rose by 12 and 1.7 percent, respectively, in 2017, triggered "in part by the perception of a growing threat from Russia".

    "Continuing high world military expenditure is a cause of serious concern," SIPRI chair Jan Eliasson said in a statement.

    "It undermines the search for peaceful solutions to conflicts around the world."

    SIPRI said its figures include salaries, costs for operations, purchases of arms and equipment as well as research and development.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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