UK defence expenditure as a percent of GDP remained at 2.1% in 2017, the Ministry of Defence’s international defence expenditure report reveals.
Total NATO expenditure was set at $959bn, an increase of $30bn since 2016. This increase primarily came from a rise in defence spending in the USA and Canada.
Compared to 5 members in 2016, only 4 members met their 2% of GDP defence spending target in 2017: the US, Greece, the UK, and Estonia. Poland slipped the threshold below to 1.98%.
Interestingly, the country with the smallest spend on defence as a percentage of GDP, Luxembourg at 0.55%, also had the largest proportion of their defence expenditure spent on equipment, at 42%.
The UK continued to spend the required 20% of its budget on equipment, with its figure being 22% in 2017.
— Henry Jones (@hthjones) October 18, 2018
Globally, the top four defence spenders have been the same countries since 2014 (USA, China, Saudi Arabia, Russia), although Russia has fallen from 3rd to 4th place this year.
“It is only by investing in our security, by making sure that we have the things that we need in the right number and quality, that we can be confident about our deterrence and defence”
Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller
The figures come amid a time of intense pressure from the US for NATO members to increase spending. Earlier this week, NATO’s Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller stated at a speech in Paris that “security does not come for free”. France currently spends around 1.8% of its GDP on defence.
The Chancellor Philip Hammond will publish his 2018 budget on the 29th October. There’s been renewed pressure on the Treasury from the Secretary of State Gavin Williamson and the Defence Select Committee for an increase in defence spending. Indeed in June this year the committee published their report entitled ‘Beyond 2 per cent’, found here.