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NATO figures indicate healthy spending levels in 2020

17th March 2021 - 14:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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All bar three NATO allies saw defence spending growth last year

Most NATO member states increased defence spending last year despite the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to provisional figures for 2020 released by the alliance on 16 March.

Albania, Norway and Turkey cut defence spending in 2020 but Bulgaria saw the most significant decrease (50%).

Estimated overall spending of almost $1.03 trillion in 2020 represented a 2.7% increase on 2019, with the US naturally accounting for the vast majority ($717 billion).

Eleven of the 30 member states met a NATO baseline requirement by spending 2% of GDP on defence in 2020: the US (3.73%). Greece (2.68%), Estonia (2.33%), UK (2.32%), Poland (2.31%), Latvia (2.27%), Lithuania (2.13%), Romania (2.07%), France (2.04%), Norway and Slovakia (2% apiece).

Eighteen member states met a NATO objective to spend more than 20% of their national defence budgets on equipment.

Speaking after he released his annual report on alliance activities, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (pictured) said the latest statistics reflect ‘an increase in defence spending in all allied countries since 2014’.

Specifically in 2020, some NATO countries ‘have now come above 2% because of reduction in the estimates for their GDP [because of COVID]’, he noted. ‘But what is stable and what we see every year is a steady increase in defence spending across the Alliance.’

However, it may take some time before the full economic consequences of COVID — and their impact on national defence budgets — are known.

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