In 2018 India incurred a colossal $66.5 billion in military expenditure as compared to a lowly $11.4 billion by Pakistan the same year rejecting the notion that the latter was ensnared in an arms race with the former. India had actually increased its military spending in 2018 by 3.1 percent while increase in Pakistan's military expenditure the same year was as much as 11 percent. Still, in absolute terms Pakistan's spending was too paltry compared to that of India's.
Meanwhile, total world military expenditure rose to $1822 billion in 2018, representing an increase of 2.6 percent from 2017, according to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The five biggest spenders in 2018 were the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, India and France, which together accounted for 60 percent of global military spending (World military expenditure grows to $ 1.8 trillion in 2018, published on April 29, 2019, in a Stockholm International Peace Research Institute publication).
Experts said 10 percent of this amount ($1822 billion) would be enough to fund the global goals agreed upon by United Nations to end poverty and hunger by 2030. This gives some sort of perspective that can allow people to see what is the opportunity cost involved with global military spending.
Almost half the world - over 3 billion people - live on less than $2.50 a day. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world's 7 richest people combined. Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names. One billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, 270 million have no access to health services. Less than one percent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school.
Military spending by the US increased for the first time in 2018 since 2010, while spending by China grew for the 24th consecutive year. Total global military spending rose for the second consecutive year in 2018, to the highest level since 1988-the first year for which consistent global data is available. World spending is now 76 percent higher than the post-cold war low in 1998. World military spending in 2018 represented 2.1 percent of global GDP or $239 per person.
'In 2018, the US and China accounted for half of the world's military spending,' says Dr Nan Tian, a researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure (AMEX) programme. 'The higher level of world military expenditure in 2018 is mainly the result of significant increases in spending by these two countries.'
The US military spending grew - for the first time since 2010 - by 4.6 percent, to reach $649 billion in 2018. The USA remained by far the largest spender in the world, and spent almost as much on its military in 2018 as the next eight largest-spending countries combined. 'The increase in US spending was driven by the implementation from 2017 of new arms procurement programmes under the Trump administration,' says Dr Aude Fleurant, the director of the SIPRI AMEX programme.
China, the second-largest spender in the world, increased its military expenditure by 5.0 percent to $250 billion in 2018. This was the 24th consecutive year of increase in Chinese military expenditure. Its spending in 2018 was almost 10 times higher than in 1994, and accounted for 14 percent of world military spending. 'Growth in Chinese military spending tracks the country's overall economic growth,' says Tian. 'China has allocated 1.9 percent of its GDP to the military every year since 2013.'
Military expenditure in Asia and Oceania has risen every year since 1988. At $507 billion, military spending in the region accounted for 28 percent of the global total in 2018, compared with just 9.0 percent in 1988.
In 2018, India increased its military spending by 3.1 percent to $66.5 billion. Military expenditure by Pakistan grew by 11 percent (the same level of growth as in 2017), to reach $11.4 billion in 2018. South Korean military expenditure was $43.1 billion in 2018 - an increase of 5.1 percent compared with 2017 and the highest annual increase since 2005.
'The tensions between countries in Asia as well as between China and the USA are major drivers for the continuing growth of military spending in the region,' says Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher with the SIPRI AMEX programme.
Several countries in Central and Eastern Europe made large increases in their military expenditure in 2018. Spending by Poland rose by 8.9 percent in 2018 to $11.6 billion, while Ukraine's spending was up by 21 percent to $4.8 billion. Spending by Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania also grew (ranging from 18 percent to 24 percent) in 2018.
'The increases in Central and Eastern Europe are largely due to growing perceptions of a threat from Russia,' said Pieter Wezeman, a senior researcher with the SIPRI AMEX programme. 'This is despite the fact that Russian military spending has fallen for the past two years.'
At $61.4 billion, Russian military spending was the sixth highest in the world in 2018. Its spending decreased by 3.5 per cent compared with 2017.
Military spending in South America rose by 3.1 percent in 2018. This was mainly due to the increase in Brazilian spending (by 5.1 percent), the second increase in as many years.
Military expenditure in Africa fell by 8.4 percent in 2018, the fourth consecutive annual decrease since the peak in spending in 2014. There were major decreases in spending by Algeria (-6.1 percent), Angola (-18 percent) and Sudan (-49 percent).
Military spending by states in the Middle East for which data is available fell by 1.9 per cent in 2018.
Total military expenditure by all 29 North Atlantic Treaty Organization members was $963 billion in 2018, which accounted for 53 percent of world spending.
The largest absolute increase in spending in 2018 was by the USA ($27.8 billion), while the biggest decrease was by Saudi Arabia (-$4.6 billion).
Military spending in Turkey increased by 24 percent in 2018 to $19.0 billion, the highest annual percentage increase among the world's top 15 military spenders.
Six of the 10 countries with the highest military burden (military spending as a proportion of GDP) in the world in 2018 are in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia (8.8 percent of GDP), Oman (8.2 percent), Kuwait (5.1 percent), Lebanon (5.0 percent), Jordan (4.7 percent) and Israel (4.3 percent).
SIPRI monitors developments in military expenditure worldwide and maintains the most comprehensive, consistent and extensive data source available on military expenditure. Military expenditure refers to all government spending on current military forces and activities, including salaries and benefits, operational expenses, arms and equipment purchases, military construction, research and development, and central administration, command and support. SIPRI therefore discourages the use of terms such as 'arms spending' when referring to military expenditure, as spending on armaments is usually only a minority of the total.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019


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