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India making it to the top three military spenders is due to its rivalry with China and Pakistan, SIPRI's senior researcher said. Photo: Hindustan Times (Hindustan Times)
India making it to the top three military spenders is due to its rivalry with China and Pakistan, SIPRI's senior researcher said. Photo: Hindustan Times (Hindustan Times)

India is world’s 3rd largest military spender, expense rose by 6.8% in 2019

  • China’s military expenditure reached $261 billion in 2019, a 5.1 % increase compared with 2018
  • India’s military spending grew 6.8 % to touch $71.1 billion outpacing Japan ($47.6 billion) and South Korea ($43.9 billion)

NEW DELHI : The US, China and India were the world’s three biggest military spenders in 2019, followed by Russia and Saudi Arabia. The two Asian countries made it to the top three for the first time, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said on Monday.

The three countries were ahead of Russia ($65 billion) and Saudi Arabia ($61.8 billion) who together made up the world’s top military spenders, accounting for 62% of the global military spend including salaries, benefits, operational expenses, arms and equipment purchases, military construction, research and development, central administration, command and support.

Total global spending rose to almost $2 trillion in 2019, up 3.6% from 2018, Sipri said in a statement.

“This is the first time that two Asian states have featured among the top three military spenders," it said.

“India’s tensions and rivalry with both Pakistan and China are among the major drivers for its increased military spending," said Siemon T. Wezeman, Sipri senior researcher.

“The total (spend) for 2019 represents an increase of 3.6 % from 2018 and the largest annual growth in spending since 2010," Sipri said, adding that “global military spending in 2019 represented 2.2 % of the global gross domestic product (GDP), which equates to approximately $249 per person."

“This is the highest level of spending since the 2008 global financial crisis and probably represents a peak in expenditure," said Nan Tian, a Sipri researcher.

However, the novel coronavirus or covid-19 pandemic that caused countries to close borders and impose lockdowns have brought economic activity to a standstill.

This is likely to “disrupt" future military spending, Sipri said, pointing to data gathered from previous global economic downturns.

In Asia, in 2019, India and China topped the list of military spenders with India’s spending growing by 6.8 % and touching $71.1 billion outpacing Japan’s ($47.6 billion) and South Korea’s ($43.9 billion).

China’s military expenditure reached $261 billion in 2019, a 5.1 % rise from 2018.

Globally, it is the US that is driving the growth in military sales, with a 5.3% rise in spending to $732 billion, accounting for 38% of the global spend.

“The recent growth in US military spending is largely based on a perceived return to competition between the great powers,’ says Pieter D. Wezeman, senior researcher at Sipri.

The average military spending burden was 1.4 % of GDP for countries in the Americas, 1.6 % for Africa, 1.7 % for Asia and Oceania and for Europe and 4.5 % for the West Asia, the Sipri statement added.

In Europe, Germany’s military spending rose by 10 % in 2019 to $ 49.3 billion, the largest increase among the top 15 military spenders in 2019.

“The growth in German military spending can partly be explained by the perception of an increased threat from Russia, shared by many North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) member states. At the same time, however, military spending by France and the UK remained relatively stable," said Diego Lopes da Silva, a researcher at Sipri.

In 2019, Russia was the fourth-largest spender in the world and increased its military expenditure by 4.5 % to $ 65.1 billion.

“At 3.9 % of its GDP, Russia’s military spending burden was among the highest in Europe in 2019," said Alexandra Kuimova, researcher at Sipri.

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