ISLAMABAD: India had the world’s third biggest military budget last year, behind the United States and China, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said in its annual report released on Monday.

India’s military spending of $71 billion was 6.8 per cent higher over its 2018 expenditure. It grew by 259 per cent over a 30-year period stretching from 1990 to 2019 and by 37 per cent over the 2010-19 decade.

However, in terms of GDP, New Delhi’s military burden fell from 2.7 per cent in 2010 to 2.4 per cent in 2019, according to the report, “Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2019”.

India’s tensions and rivalry with China and Pakistan are among the major drivers for its increased military expenditure, the report observed.

Sipri, founded in 1966, is an independent international institute dedicated to research into conflicts, armaments and arms control.

According to Sipri, Pakistan’s defence budget rose 70pc over the past decade

A significant fall in Saudi Arabia’s spending (-16 per cent) over the same period meant that India shot up to the third spot for the first time.

Russia moved up one place in the rankings, from fifth to fourth, while Saudi Arabia fell from third to fifth.

About Pakistan, the Sipri report said its military expenditure had gone up by 70 per cent during the 2010-19 decade to reach $10.3bn. In terms of GDP, the military budget rose from 3.4 per cent in 2010 to four per cent last year.

The world military burden followed a declining trend in 2010-19, decreasing every year except for 2015 and 2019. There was a substantial variation in the average military burden of each region over the decade: it dropped for countries in Africa and in the Americas while it increased for countries in Europe and Middle East and remained unchanged for Asia and Oceania.

Of the 149 countries for which Sipri has military burden data for 2019, 10 allocated four per cent or more of their GDP to the military, 13 had a burden ranging between 3.0 and 3.9 per cent, 24 earmarked 2.0-2.9 per cent of their GDP for defence, 65 had a burden of 1.0 -1.9 per cent while 34 allocated under one per cent of their national wealth for defence.

Six of the 10 countries with a spending of four per cent or more are in the Middle East. Oman spent 8.8pc of GDP on the military — the highest in the world. Close on its heels was Saudi Arabia with eight percent, Kuwait (5.6 per cent), Israel (5.3 per cent), Jordan (4.7 per cent) and Lebanon (4.2 per cent).

The other four are Pakistan (4pc), Algeria (6pc), Armenia (4.9pc) and Azerbaijan (4pc).

The global military expenditure last year was estimated at $1917bn — the highest since 1988. The amount was 3.6 per cent higher in real terms than in 2018 and 7.2 per cent higher over 2010.

World military spending rose in each of the five years from 2015, having fallen steadily from 2011 to 2014 because of the financial crisis.

The world military burden — the global military expenditure as a share of the gross domestic product (GDP) — was 2.2 per cent in 2019, an appreciable rise over 2018.

Military spending per capita rose from $243 in 2018 to $249 in 2019 as the 1.1 per cent growth in world population was surpassed by the growth in military spending.

The top 15

The top 15 military spenders in 2019 were the same as those in 2018, but there were some significant changes in the ranking.

The top 15 countries altogether spent $1,553bn in 2019, accounting for 81 per cent of military expenditure.

All but three countries in the top 15 had higher military expenditure last year than in 2010. The exceptions were the United States (-15 per cent), the United Kingdom (-15 per cent) and Italy (-11 per cent).

Japan had the lowest military burden: it devoted only 0.9 per cent of its GDP to military expenditure. Saudi Arabia had the highest at eight per cent.

Among the top 15, the military burdens of Israel (5.3 per cent), Russia (3.9 per cent), USA (3.4 per cent), South Korea (2.7 per cent) and India (2.4 per cent) were higher than the global average.

With an expenditure of $732bn, the USA remained by far the largest spender in the world. The next 10 countries on the list spent $821bn combined.

China, the second-largest spender, is estimated to have allocated $261bn for defence — 14 per cent of global expenditure.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2020