And the increase in US defence spending last year – almost £45 billion – is almost equal to Germany’s entire amount during that period. Mr Trump voiced concern last year about the amount of money member states pay into the alliance as a percentage of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). NATO statistics for 2018 show just five countries – the US, Britain, Poland, Greece and Estonia – hit the target of two percent of their annual GDP.
The imbalance was highlighted by the report, published today by London-based think tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Dr John Chipman, IISS director-general and chief executive, said: “In 2018, global defence spending reached $1.67 trillion.
“This was an increase of more than $80 billion over the previous year and meant that global defence spending rose by nearly two percent between 2017 and 2018, when measured in real terms.
“China’s defence spending continues to rise and contribute to this total.
“However, the 2018 global increase also reflects higher spending by Western states, notably the US. The nominal increase in US spending between 2017 and 2018, at almost US$45bn, comes close to equalling Germany’s entire 2018 defence budget.
“In 2018 this US increase would, if measured by itself, have constituted the tenth largest defence budget in the world.”
Speaking during the NATO summit held in July, 2018, Mr Trump hinted the US “might do its own thing” European allies spent more on defence.
Mr Chipman said: “Although defence spending by NATO’s European members grew by 4.2 percent in 2018, the US will press Europe to spend more.
“In mid-2018, President Trump said that NATO members should increase defence spending to 2 percent of GDP ‘immediately’.
“According to our figures, if NATO European states were to have done this in 2018, they would together have had to find an extra US$102bn on top of their existing budgets.
“They would collectively have had to increase their spending by 38 percent.
“By way of comparison, the total that allies would have had to spend to reach two percent in 2014 – the year that allies pledged to move towards the target within ten years – was US$112bn.”
Mr Chipman added: “NATO’s 70th anniversary celebration will be tempered by awareness that, while external actors like Russia may look to undermine Euro-Atlantic cohesion, uncertainty also comes from within.
“Notably, President Trump’s statements have cast doubt on the value that the current US administration places on its alliances.
“They have unsettled partners who for decades relied on Washington’s strategic predictability.
“But while Germany’s Chancellor Merkel, for one, concluded that the US was no longer necessarily a reliable partner, the US remains central to Europe’s defence.
“And notwithstanding President Trump’s exhortations about Europe’s spending, Washington has continued to devote further funding and equipment to the continent’s defence.”