Military spending increased globally in 2020 despite pandemic induced slump: Report

Stockholm, April 26 2021: Global military spending rose to almost $2Trillion after growing by 2.6% last year even though the world’s economies were ravaged by the impact of the pandemic and the global GDP contracted by 4.4%.

These figures come from a report made by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and according to one of the authors of the publication, Diego Lopes da Silva, even though its natural to assume that a crisis like the pandemic would result in less focus on military spending, the nature of the spending in the sector is such that it could take countries time to adapt to the shock and hence the increase.

He also shared the view that the fact that military spending continued to increase in a year with an economic downturn meant the “military burden”, or the share of military spending which increased overall from 2.2% to 2.4%, out of total GDP, had increased as well. This is the largest year on year increase after 2009.

One of the reasons is that 12 NATO members spent at least 2% of their GDP on their military proliferation, up from the 9 in 2019. However there are exceptions such as South Korea and Chile, both of whom have apparently appropriated their military funding and redirected them towards pandemic demand spending. While others such as Brazil and Russia did not openly declare they did the same but they spent less then their original forecast military budget of 2020.

While in Hungary there was a different kind of response, in that the country increased military spending “as part of a stimulus package in response to the pandemic”.

The report also made the hypothesis that unlike the global economic crisis of 2008/2009, when the majority of the world’s economies made concessions to military spending and adopted austerity measures, in case of 2020 that did not happen. The largest military spenders on the globe are giants US and China, with the former accounting for 39% of the increase and the latter another 13% chunk of the overall.

After initially reducing spending for 7 years, Washington increased its spending for the third year in a row in 2020, after seven years of reductions. This could be attributed to former President Donald Trump’s time in office when he sought to boost what he saw as a depleted US military and also the concerns experienced by the country from potential competitors China and Russia. The Biden administration, now in office for more than 100 days has also so far not shown any indication that it will reduce the bloated military budgets.

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