A study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, released on Monday, says that global military expenditures in 2020, including the pictured F-35 of the Norwegian air force, totaled nearly $2 trillion. Photo courtesy of Royal Danish Air Force
April 26 (UPI) -- Total worldwide military expenditures rose 2.6% in 2020 to nearly $2 trillion, data released on Monday by a Sweden-based research organization indicates.
The annual study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute pegged the total at $1.981 trillion, despite a 4.4% decrease in global gross domestic product.
The report cites the United States, China, India, Russia and Britain as the biggest spenders.
China's military budget increased for the 26th consecutive year, and the five leading nations accounted for 62% of the world's military expenditures.
Military spending as a share of GDP rose to 2.6% in 2020, an increase from 2.2% in 2019, the study said.
The SIPRI study noted that Russia's military expenses declined, and that some military costs of Brazil and South Korea were explicitly diverted to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
It added that U.S. military expenditures grew 4.4% in 2020, to an estimated $778 billion and 39% of the world total, the third consecutive annual increase after seven years of reductions.
"The recent increases in U.S. military spending can be primarily attributed to heavy investment in research and development, and several long-term projects such as modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal and large-scale arms procurement,' said SIPRI researcher Alexandra Marksteiner.
"This reflects growing concerns over perceived threats from strategic competitors such as China and Russia, as well as the [former president Donald] Trump administration's drive to bolster what it saw as a depleted U.S. military," Marksteiner added.
Another SIPRI examination, released in March, said that although global arms sales leveled off between 2016 and 2020, imports by the Middle East and North Africa grew by 25%.
About 47% of U.S. arms sales in that five-year period went to the Middle East, a 28% increase over the previous five years.