Not that much money has been spent on the military since 1988. Then the Cold War continued: In 1981, the nations of the world invested billions of dollars in missiles, tanks, ammunition and their soldiers in 2020. This corresponds to a 2.6 percent increase over the previous year. And that despite the Corona pandemic, fighting it caused the collapse of economic strength. In its latest annual report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) stated that arms expenditures worldwide currently account for 2.4 percent of global economic output, although the International Monetary Fund estimates that the economy has decreased by about 4 percent across all countries. Over the world due to the Corona crisis, it has shrunk 4 percent.
Even in a pandemic, weapons will not be saved
Only a few countries, such as Chile or South Korea, have allocated spending on weapons differently in order to combat epidemics. Brazil and Russia have slashed their military budgets slightly – compared to previous plans. Russia, for example, is down 6.6 percent.
The United States and China are by far the front
Overall, Alexandra Marksteiner, an expert at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, told DW: “The pandemic has had no discernible impact on global arms spending in 2020. Military spending has increased in the midst of the economic downturn.”
Niklas Schurnig of the Hessian Foundation for Peace and Conflict Research (PRIF) believes this is also due to the fact that it is particularly difficult to “change course in a short time” in the defense sector. “It is likely that many projects will be launched before Corona,” he told DW. Changes are likely to appear in the future. At the same time the international climate deteriorated. ”Less spending is unlikely in the future.
The SIPRI report provides insight into a very opaque field, says expert Niklas Schurnig
The United States and China Remain “Great Donors”
It remains unchanged that the United States and the People’s Republic of China spent most of the money on the military. Both countries, which are drifting more and more politically apart, account for more than half of global arms spending.
But Germany has also increased its military spending, and even “improved” one place among the “top ten” of the spending countries: from eighth to seventh. According to SIPRI calculations, Germany invested nearly $ 53 billion in its military in 2020 – about 1.4 percent of its GDP.
In doing so, Germany is still far from achieving NATO’s 2% target. The Defense Alliance agreed to it in 2014. It was said at the time that this goal was to come close within ten years. Former US President Donald Trump repeatedly insisted on Germany. His successor, Joe Biden, is also calling for more military participation from Germany.
2 percent for defense that might seem like a lot today. But one must also take into account: at the beginning of the 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, Germany used about five percent of its GDP for defensive purposes.
Niklas Schurnig of the Hessian Foundation for Peace and Conflict predicts a trend toward increased spending on the military in Germany: “At least, the pressure on the Allied partners to increase their military spending will not decrease even under the Biden government.”
Spending has evolved by region
More and more NATO countries reach the 2% target
Almost all of the 30 NATO member states, according to the reports of the Stockholm Institute, increased their military spending in 2020. In this context, the Coronavirus pandemic leads to a strange phenomenon: due to Corona, the GDP of most countries has decreased; At the same time, however, the military budget remained unchanged. As a percentage of the economic power, this means that spending on armaments is increasing. Now, twelve NATO members have achieved the 2% target they set for themselves. In 2019, there were only nine states. France, for example, added a new addition. Overall, NATO countries, including the USA, continue to provide about half of global military spending.
The curve on arms spending has been rising steadily, particularly in the People’s Republic of China, which has been spending more money on the military for 26 years in a row. $ 252 billion flowed into the Chinese military in 2020.
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For the period from 2011 to 2020, SIPRI reported an increase of 76 percent in China. The institute explains this through ambitious plans to modernize weapons systems and “expansion plans”.
An arms race between the United States and China?
China’s biggest competitor is the United States. The United States is by far the country with the highest military spending in the world. The United States, a NATO country, accounts for 39 percent. In absolute numbers it totaled $ 778 billion last year, far more than the entire German federal budget.
The rate of increase over the previous year is 4.4 percent. SIPRI explains the increase, among other things, with the renewal of the nuclear arsenal. Another reason is feeling threatened. Above all, as SIPRI employee Alexandra Marksteiner explained, there are “perceived concerns of the strategic competitors China and Russia”.