London: India increased its defence spending by 3.1 per cent to USD 66.5 billion in 2018 while Pakistan hiked it by a hefty 11 per cent to touch USD 11.4 billion, according to a new report on global military expenditure released on Monday by a leading Swedish think tank.
The total world military expenditure rose to USD 1,822 billion in 2018, representing an increase of 2.6 per cent from 2017, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said in its annual report.
The five biggest spenders in 2018 were the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, India and France, which together accounted for 60 per cent of global military spending, it said.
Military spending by the US increased for the first time since 2010, while spending by China grew for the 24th consecutive year.
In South Asia, the SIPRI said India increased its military spending by 3.1 per cent to USD 66.5 billion in 2018. Military expenditure by Pakistan grew by 11 per cent (the same level of growth as in 2017), to reach USD 11.4 billion in 2018.
Total global military spending rose for the second consecutive year in 2018, to the highest level since 1988, the first year for which consistent global data is available. World spending is now 76 per cent higher than the post-cold war low in 1998. World military spending in 2018 represented 2.1 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) or USD 239 per person.
"In 2018 the USA and China accounted for half of the world's military spending," said Dr Nan Tian, a researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure (AMEX) programme.
"The higher level of world military expenditure in 2018 is mainly the result of significant increases in spending by these two countries," he said.
America's military spending grew - for the first time since 2010 - by 4.6 per cent, to reach USD 649 billion in 2018. The US remained by far the largest spender in the world, and spent almost as much on its military in 2018 as the next eight largest-spending countries combined, SIPRI said in a press release.
"The increase in US spending was driven by the implementation from 2017 of new arms procurement programmes under the Trump administration," according to Dr Aude Fleurant, the director of the SIPRI AMEX programme.
China, the second-largest spender in the world, increased its military expenditure by 5.0 per cent to USD 250 billion in 2018.
This was the 24th consecutive year of increase in Chinese military expenditure. Its spending in 2018 was almost 10 times higher than in 1994, and accounted for 14 per cent of world military spending, the release said.
"Growth in Chinese military spending tracks the country's overall economic growth," according to Tian.
China has allocated 1.9 per cent of its GDP to the military every year since 2013, the SIPRI release said.
"The tensions between countries in Asia as well as between China and the USA are major drivers for the continuing growth of military spending in the region," according to Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher with the SIPRI AMEX programme.