Global military expenditure reached its highest level last year since the end of the Cold War, mainly fueled by increased spending by the United States and China, the world’s two biggest economies, a leading defence think-tank has said.
In its annual report published on Monday, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said overall global military spending in 2018 hit $1.82 trillion, up by 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.
US military spending rose for the first time in seven years to reach $649bn, 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 five percent to $250bn last year, the 24th consecutive annual increase.
“In 2018, the US and China accounted for half of the world’s military spending,” Nan Tian, a researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure (AMEX) programme, said.
US President Donald Trump has committed to a strong national defence, despite reducing troop numbers in conflict zones such as Syria and Afghanistan. His defence spending request to Congress this year is the largest ever in dollar terms before adjustment for inflation.
“The increase in US spending was driven by the implementation from 2017 of new arms procurement programmes under the Trump administration,” Aude Fleurant, the director of the SIPRI AMEX programme, said in a statement.