Global Military Spending Continued to Fall in 2013

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Bulgaria: Global Military Spending Continued to Fall in 2013 File photo.

World military expenditure totalled USD 1.75T in 2013, a fall of 1.9% since 2012, according to figures released by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The fall in the global total comes from decreases in Western countries, led by the United States, and despite increases in all other regions. In fact, military spending in the rest of the world excluding the USA increased by 1.8%.

The next three highest spenders, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia, all made substantial increases, with Saudi Arabia surpassing 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, the SIPRI report released on Monday showed.

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. Meanwhile, austerity policies continued to determine trends in Western and Central Europe and in other Western countries.

Military spending in the Middle East increased by 4.0% in 2013, reaching an estimated USD 150B. Saudi Arabia's spending increased by 14%, to reach USD 67B.

The largest regional increase was by Iraq – 27%, as it continued the rebuilding of its armed forces.

Military spending data for Iran, Qatar, Syria and the United Arab Emirates are not available for 2013, rendering the estimated regional total highly uncertain. This reflects the general opacity of military spending in the region, and even where data is available it may not cover all military spending, the press release stated.

Military spending in Africa increased by 8.3% in 2013, reaching an estimated USD 44.9B. Over two-thirds of the African countries for which data is available increased military spending in 2013. Algeria became the first country in Africa with military spending over USD 10B, an increase of 8.8% since 2012, and of 176% since 2004. Meanwhile, Angola increased its spending by 36% in 2013, to overtake South Africa as the largest military spender in sub-Saharan Africa, and the second highest on the continent. High oil revenues appear to be a factor driving both Algeria's and Angola's military spending increases.

Military expenditure in Asia and Oceania rose by 3.6% in 2013, reaching USD 407B. The increase is mostly accounted for by a 7.4% increase by China, whose spending reached an estimated USD188B.

Japan's concerns over China's growing military power, combined with the Japanese Government's own nationalist policies, have led to Japan ending its long, gradual decline in military spending. Nevertheless, the largest increase in the region in 2013 was by Afghanistan, by 77%, as it builds up its security forces in preparation from the withdrawal of most foreign troops at the end of 2014, the report stated.

Military expenditure refers to all government spending on current military forces and activities, including salaries and benefits, operational expenses, arms and equipment purchases, military construction, research and development, and central administration, command and support. This is the third and final major data launch prior to the release of SIPRI's world nuclear forces figures and the major findings of SIPRI Yearbook 2014 in June 2014.

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