World military expenditure reached $1.75 trillion in 2013, a decline of 1.9% in real terms since 2012.
This was the second consecutive year in which spending fell, according to data published by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
The decline globally is as a result of a slowdown in Western countries, led by the United States, and is despite increases in all other regions.
The research institute noted that military spending in the rest of the world excluding the USA actually increased by 1.8%.
China, Russia and Saudi Arabia fill the next three slots on the big spenders list— and all made substantial increases, with Saudi Arabia leapfrogging the United Kingdom, Japan and France to become the world’s fourth largest military spender.
China, Russia and Saudi Arabia are among the 23 countries around the world that have more than doubled their military expenditure since 2004, SIPRI said.
The fall in US spending in 2013, by 7.8%, is the result of the end of the war in Iraq, the beginning of the drawdown from Afghanistan, and the effects of automatic budget cuts passed by the US Congress in 2011, the institute said.
Austerity policies also continued to determine trends in Western and Central Europe and in other Western countries, SIPRI said.
“The increase in military spending in emerging and developing countries continues unabated,” said Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman, director of SIPRI’s Military Expenditure Programme.
“While in some cases it is the natural result of economic growth or a response to genuine security needs, in other cases it represents a squandering of natural resource revenues, the dominance of autocratic regimes, or emerging regional arms races.”
Africa and South Africa
Africa had the largest relative rise in military spending in 2013 of any region, by 8.3% to $44.9 billion.
SIPRI pointed out that, while the regional trend tends to be dominated by a few key countries, military spending rose in two-thirds of the countries for which data is available.
Ghana more than doubled its military spending in 2013, from $109 million in 2012 to $306 million in 2013. This does not include funds from donors, which totalled $47 million in 2013, SIPRI said.
According to the budget statement, the budget will allow continued modernization of the armed forces, which are heavily involved in international peacekeeping operations.
Despite the huge increase, Ghana’s military burden in 2013 is projected to be only 0.6% of GDP.
SIPRI said that Algeria continued the breakneck pace of growth in its military spending, with an 8.8% lift in 2013, to $10.4 billion—the first time an African country has
spent more than $10 billion on its military.
“The reasons for Algeria’s ongoing militarization include its desire for regional power status, the powerful role of the military, the threat of terrorism—including from armed Islamist groups in neighbouring Mali—and the ready availability of oil funds,” the Swedish group said.
Another country where oil wealth is supporting increased military spending is Angola, which became the second largest military spender in Africa—and the largest in sub-
Saharan Africa—in 2013, with an increase of 36% in 2013 (and 175%since 2004), to reach $6.1 billion.
This is the first time that Angola’s spending has surpassed that of South Africa, which spent $4.1 billion in 2013, an increase of 17% since 2004.
Angola and Algeria both now have military burdens of 4.8% of GDP, the highest in Africa for countries where recent data is available, SIPRI said.