Annual military spending worldwide rose by 0.3 percent in 2011, a study has found, even as Western countries seek to balance their budgets. The $1.74 trillion spent in total easily outstrips Russia's GDP.
Global military spending rose slightly in 2011 year-on-year, but by a smaller margin than in recent years, according to an annual study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
The biggest single military spender, the United States, reduced its military expenditure in 2011, as did several countries in debt-ridden Europe, while strong growth was posted in places like Russia, China and India.
"The aftereffects of the global economic crisis, especially deficit-reduction measures in USA and Europe, have finally brought the decade-long rise in military spending to a halt, at least for now," the head of SIPRI's military expenditure project, Sam Perlo-Freeman, said. Between 2001 and 2009, global arms spending rose by an average of 4.5 percent per annum.
The 2011 SIPRI estimate on total arms spending, $1.74 trillion (€1.32 trillion), represents a figure comfortably greater than Russia's Gross Domestic Product, or almost two-thirds of Germany's total economic output.
The US topped the charts at $711 billion, 41 percent of global spending, though that marked a 1.2 percent reduction from 2010 - attributed to the US withdrawal from Iraq. China remains well adrift in second place, despite boosting its annual spending by 6.7 percent to around $143 billion. Russia, meanwhile, leapfrogged Britain and France for the first time, becoming the third-highest military spender as Moscow seeks to modernize its forces.
Germany remains in the top 10, albeit slipping from eighth to ninth position, after reducing military expenditure by 3.7 percent to an estimated $46.7 billion.
Even though six of the world's top ten military spenders cut their 2011 budgets, SIPRI said that it was "too early" to say if this denoted "a long-term change of trend" after a decade of consistent growth.
msh/slk (AP, dpa)