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HomeGlobal Perspective & Critical ResearchGlobal Defence-spending on the up, despite Economic Crunch

Global Defence-spending on the up, despite Economic Crunch

Author: Group study

Affiliation: International Institute for Strategic Studies

Organization/Publisher: International Institute for Strategic Studies

Date/Place: February 25, 2021/Pakistan

Type of Literature: Report


Keywords: US, China, Defense spending, Security


This report by London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) updates data on the military organizations, equipment inventories and defense budgets of 171 countries, and is one of two important reports on global defense budget and capacities – the second one by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The report details (by region) developments affecting defense policy, procurement, and defense economics, besides noting the key trends in the traditional land, sea and air domains, and additionally in cyberspace. It also discusses future maritime competition, battle management systems, military cyber capabilities, and additionally China’s civil-military integration and fractures in the arms-control environment. The authors of this study also analyze the defense policy, military capability and defense economics and industry development for China, Egypt, Finland, Indonesia, Russia, Senegal and the United States. The study notes the US and China— the world’s top two economies and militaries—led the growth in global defense spending, hitting a new high in 2020 amid economic contraction triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The report details that total military expenditures added up to $1.83 trillion in 2020, a 3.9% increase over the previous year. Washington led from the front and was the top spender in 2020— representing 40.3% of global spending. Tensions in the South China Sea also led to a rise in defense spending of the regional countries, but at a slower pace than a year earlier. Region-wise Asia’s overall spending was up 4.3%, down from the 4.9% growth rate of 2019. Beijing’s defense spending witnessed a boost by $12 billion or 5.2%, rising to $193.3 billion. Research organizations have usually cast doubt over the real numbers in China’s strictly centralized defense budget management system. The report says that the People’s Liberation Army’s navy maintained “over-the-horizon” presence focused on extending its reach, as its corvette numbers more than doubled in the last five years, reaching 55 the last year. It has been regularly holding exercises in the South China Sea while it boosted its anti-submarine warfare capabilities and expanded its fleets of transport ships and heavy transport aircraft.

By: Riyaz ul Khaliq, CIGA Non-Resident Research Associate



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