Global military spending reached US$2443 billion for 2023

April 23, 2024
The United States remains by far the largest military spender, accounting for more than 37% of global spending in 2023. Graphic: Green Left

Global military spending has surged, according to the latest Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) research released on April 22.

It said total global military expenditure reached US$2443 billion in 2023, an increase of 6.8% in real terms from 2022.

It was the steepest year-on-year increase since 2009. Total military expenditure accounted for 2.3% of the global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2023.

SIPRI monitors military expenditure worldwide and maintains the most comprehensive, consistent and extensive publicly available data source on military expenditure.

The five biggest spenders were the United States, China, Russia, India and Saudi Arabia which, together, accounted for 61% of world military spending.

Together, the top 10 accounted for almost three quarters (74%) of the world total, or US$1799 billion — US$105 billion more than the previous year.

US military spending rose by 2.3% to reach US$916 billion in 2023: it remains by far the largest spender, accounting for more than 37% of global spending in 2023.

China’s military spending rose for the 29th year, up by 6.0% to US$296 billion (about one third of the US).

Russia’s military spending is estimated to have increased by 24% to US$109 billion. This marks a 57% rise since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea. 

Ukraine was the 8th largest spender, increasing its military expenditure by 51% to $64.8 billion.

Japan increased its spending by 11% and Poland’s rose by 75%, the highest percentage increase in the top 15.

Most European NATO members increased their spending: their combined share of the NATO total was 28%, the highest in a decade. The remaining 4% came from Canada and Türkiye.

Spending increased in five geographical areas: in the Americas it was up by 2.2%; in Asia and Oceania it was up by 4.4%. European spending rose by 16% — the largest year-on-year increase in the region in the post-Cold War period.

Military expenditure increased in the Middle East by 9.0% to US$200 billion due to spending by Israel, Saudi Arabia and Türkiye. It is the highest annual growth rate in the region in 10 years.

India is now the fourth largest global military spender in 2023 — at US$83.6 billion. Its military expenditure rose 4.2% on 2022.

The largest percentage increase in military spending was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (+105%), where there is a longstanding civil war. South Sudan recorded the second largest percentage increase (+78% cent), also amid an ongoing civil war.

Iran was the fourth largest military spender in the Middle East with US$10.3 billion. Estimates from available data state the share of military spending allocated to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps grew from 27% to 37% between 2019 and 2023.

SIPRI attributes the rise in global military spending to the war in Ukraine and escalating tension in Asia, Oceania and the Middle East.

Australia, which spent US$32.3 billion (A$50.05 billion) in 2023, recorded a slight decrease. But it sits at 13 of the top spenders (ahead of Poland and Israel). As a share of GDP, it spent 1.9%, but defence minister Richard Marles has ambitions to raise that to 2.5% of GDP over the next decade.

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