The U.S. remains the country with the highest annual military expenditure in the world, according to a report released on Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
The institute added that the U.S. military spending grew by 1.7 percent between 2015 and 2016 to $611bn.
It added that the total world military expenditure rose to $1.686tn in 2016, an increase of 0.4 percent in real terms from 2015,
According to the report, the growth in U.S. military expenditure in 2016 could signal the end of a trend of decreases in spending due to the economic crisis and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.
However, it added, U.S. spending in 2016 remained 20 percent lower than its peak in 2010.
“In spite of continuing legal restraints on the overall U.S. budget, increases in military spending were agreed upon by Congress,” said Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure programme.
“Future spending patterns remain uncertain due to the changing political situation in the United States.”
Meanwhile, military expenditure in Western Europe “rose for the second consecutive year and was up by 2.6 percent in 2016.”
“There were spending increases in all but three countries in Western Europe, and Italy recorded the most notable increase, with spending rising by 11 per cent between 2015 and 2016,” according to the report.
Overall, the institute added, spending in Central Europe grew by 2.4 percent in 2016.
“The growth in spending by many countries in Central Europe can be partly attributed to the perception of Russia posing a greater threat,” said Siemon Wezeman, senior researcher at SIPRI.
“In spite of the fact that Russia’s spending in 2016 was only 27 per cent of the combined total of European NATO members.”
The institute said that trends and patterns in military expenditure vary considerably between regions.
It added that spending continued to grow in Asia and Oceania, Central and Eastern Europe and North Africa.
By contrast, it added, spending fell in Central America and the Caribbean, the Middle East (based on countries for which data is available), South America, and sub-Saharan Africa.
Headquartered in Stockholm, SIPRI’s research covers international conflicts, armaments, arms control and disarmament.