Global military spending growth slowest since 2001

South America saw the largest increase in military spending growth last year.

Updated: Apr 11, 2011, 09:47 AM IST

Stockholm: Growth in global military
spending slowed to its lowest level since 2001 last year as
the world economic crisis hit defence budgets, Swedish
think-tank SIPRI said on Monday.

World military spending rose only 1.3 per cent in 2010
to USD 1.63 trillion (1.14 trillion euros), after average
annual growth of 5.1 percent between 2001 and 2009, the
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said
as it released its latest report on international military
expenditures.

"In many cases, the falls or slower increase represent
a delayed reaction to the global financial and economic crisis
that broke in 2008," the group said in a statement.

The United States significantly slowed its military
investments last year but remained by far the biggest defence
spender in the world and still accounted for almost all of
global growth.

US defence spending grew by only 2.8 per cent in 2010
to USD 698 billion, after averaging growth of 7.4 per cent
between 2001, when SIPRI began publishing its reports, and
2009.

Despite the slowdown, the United States` spending
increase of USD 19.6 billion still accounted for nearly all of
the USD 20.6 billion global increase last year.

"The USA has increased its military spending by 81
percent since 2001, and now accounts for 43 per cent of the
global total, six times its nearest rival China," Sam
Perlo-Freeman, the head of SIPRI`s Military Expenditure
Project, said in a statement.

"At 4.8 per cent of GDP, US military spending in 2010
represents the largest economic burden outside the Middle
East", he said.

The region with the largest increase in military
spending last year was South America with 5.8 per cent growth,
reaching a total of USD 63.3 billion
"This continuing increase in South America is
surprising given the lack of real military threats to most
states and the existence of more pressing social needs," said
Carina Solmirano, the project`s Latin America expert.

In Europe, military spending fell by 2.8 per cent as
governments cut costs to address soaring budget deficits,
SIPRI said, noting that cuts were particularly heavy in the
more vulnerable economies of Central and Eastern Europe and in
Greece.

In Asia, the region`s weaker economic performance in
2009 saw defence expenditures grow by only 1.4 per cent, with
China leading the way with an estimated USD 119 billion in
defence spending last year.

PTI