The World is Spending More on War


In the deteriorating global strategic environment, it is no surprise that Australia is far from the only nation spending more on defence. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), in 2023, the world’s collective spending on military budgets rose for the ninth consecutive year; reaching a percentage of global gross domestic product of 2.3% (AU $3,651b). This is steepest increase in defence spending in fifteen years. Additionally, for the first time in Sipri’s 60-year history, all five geographical regions (Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania, and the Americas) recorded a rise in military spending. Notably, half of this expenditure is accounted for solely by the United States and China.

Unsurprisingly, the rise in global spending can be attributed to ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East. In Europe, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has completely changed the region’s security outlook. Ukraine’s defence spending rose 51%. Notably, even at the height of western military aid, Ukraine’s total military spending was still 9% short of Russian levels. After a year of full-scale war with Ukraine, the Kremlin’s military spending was 24% higher than in 2022, and 57% more than in 2014 (when Russia invaded Crimea). In the last couple of months, Israel’s defence spending has also increased, reaching 7% of its GDP in April of this year. Self-evidently, this rise has been primarily driven by Israel’s war against Hamas; however, one can also reasonably assume that recent attacks and ongoing provocations from Iran and Hezbollah have also been contributing factors. 

Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute | Trends in World Military Expenditure


China’s military budget has risen consecutively for 29 years. Currently, China’s military budget accounts for 50% of all military spending in Asia and Oceania. This rise in China’s spending has contributed to tensions in the Asia-Pacific and has pushed other nations in the region to amp up defence spending – including Australia. As of 2023, Australia was the thirteenth (13th) largest spender on defence, constituting 1.3% of the share of the world’s total military expenditure.  As outlined in the National Defence Strategy (NDS) and Integrated Investment Program (IIP), released in April, Australia’s defence spending is planned to increase to 2.4% by 2033-34 (a net increase of $50.3b). Defence Minister, the Hon Richard Marles MP, has stated ambitions for Australia’s annual defence budget to reach $100b within the next decade. If Australia’s defence budget was $100b this year, it would have been the seventh (7th) highest defence spender in the world.

18 May 2024 | Authored by Connor Andreatidis, Consultant, Precision Public Affairs

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