The United States, China, Saudi Arabia, India and France were the five biggest spenders on defence equipment in the world in 2018, together accounting for 60 per cent of global military spending, a report published by the leading Swedish think-tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said on Monday.

The report, titled “Trends in World Military Expenditure 2018”, said the total world military expenditure rose to $1822 billion in 2018, representing an increase of 2.6 per cent from 2017.

In 2018, India increased its military spending by 3.1 per cent to $66.5 billion. Military expenditure by Pakistan grew by 11 per cent (the same level of growth as in 2017), to reach $11.4 billion in 2018, it added.

“The tensions between countries in Asia as well as between China and the US are the major drivers for the continuing growth of military spending in the region,” said Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher with the SIPRI AMEX programme.

Military spending by the US increased for the first time since 2010, while spending by China grew for the 24th consecutive year, the report said.

It added that total global military spending rose for the second consecutive year in 2018 to the highest level since 1988. World spending was now 76 per cent higher than the post-cold war low in 1998.

World military spending in 2018 represented 2.1 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) or $239 per person. “In 2018, the US and China accounted for half of the world’s military spending,” according to Dr Nan Tian, a researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure (AMEX) programme. “The higher level of world military expenditure in 2018 is mainly the result of significant increases in spending by these two countries.”

The US military spending grew, for the first time since 2010, by 4.6 per cent, to reach $649 billion in 2018. It remained by far the largest spender in the world and spent almost as much on its military in 2018 as the next eight largest-spending countries combined.

China, the second-largest spender in the world, increased its military expenditure by 5.0 per cent to $250 billion in 2018. This was the 24th consecutive year of increase in Chinese military expenditure. Its spending in 2018 was almost 10 times higher than in 1994 and accounted for 14 per cent of world military spending.

At $61.4 billion, Russian military spending was the sixth highest in the world in 2018. Its spending decreased by 3.5 per cent compared with 2017.