World military expenditure still climbing: SIPRI

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says global defence expenditure is still climbing and reached an estimated US$1 339 billion in 2007—a real-term increase of 6% over 2006 and of 45% since 1998.
This corresponded to 2.5 per cent of world gross domestic product (GDP) and $202 for each person in the world, the Swedish NGO says in its latest Yearbook.  
The sub-region with the highest increase in military expenditure from 1998 to 2007 was Eastern Europe at 162%. “It was also the region with the highest increase in 2007, at 15%. Russia, with a 13% in 2007 accounted for 86% of this regional increase.
Other sub-regions with 10-year growth rates exceeding 50% are North America (65%), the Middle East (62%), South Asia (57%), Africa and East Asia (both 51%).
The sub-regions with the lowest growth in military spending over the past 10 years were Western Europe (6%) and Central America (14%).
The US`s military spending accounted for 45% of the world total in 2007, followed by the UK, China, France and Japan, with 4–5% each. Since 2001 US military expenditure has increased by 59% in real terms, principally because of massive spending on military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also because of increases in the “base” defence budget.
By 2007, US spending was higher than at any time since World War II. However, because of the growth of the US economy and of total US Government spending, the economic and financial burden of military spending (i.e. its share of GDP and of total US Government outlays) is lower now than during previous peak spending years in the post-World War II period.
China has increased its military spending threefold in real terms during the past decade. However, due to its rapid economic growth, the economic burden of military spending is still moderate, at 2.1% of GDP.
SIPRI says the number of countries that increased their military spending in 2007 was higher than in recent years.
The factors driving increases in world military spending include countries` foreign policy objectives, real or perceived threats, armed conflict and policies to contribute to multilateral peacekeeping operations, combined with the availability of economic resources.