10 Countries Spending the Most on the Military

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7. United Kingdom
> Military expenditure: $56.2 billion
> Expenditure as pct. of GDP: 2.3% (34th highest)
> 1-yr. spending change: -2.6% (34th lowest)
> Total arms imports: $438 million (15th highest)
> Total arms exports: $1.4 billion (5th highest)

Despite deep cuts to military expenditures after a defense review in 2010, U.K. military spending was still among the highest worldwide. Prime Minister David Cameron began implementing fiscal austerity measures, including military spending cuts, shortly after he took office in mid-2010. Critics of Cameron’s efforts suggest that further military cuts will make the U.K. less reliable to its allies. Despite the cuts, military expenditure comprised 2.3% of GDP in 2013, one of the higher proportions worldwide. Additionally, the U.K. was the fifth largest arms exporter in 2013, providing $1.4 billion of arms to foreign allies.

6. Japan
> Military expenditure: $59.4 billion
> Expenditure as pct. of GDP: 1.0% (31st lowest)
> 1-yr. spending change: -0.2% (52nd lowest)
> Total arms imports: $145 million (34th highest)
> Total arms exports: N/A

A recently ignited territorial dispute with China in the East China Sea pushed Japan to increase its military budget in 2013 for the first time in more than 10 years. While Japan’s 2013 budget called for a 0.8% increase in military spending, total military expenditure remained fixed at 1% of GDP. As is often the case, an increase in military spending means reduced funding in other areas. In the case of Japan, high military spending may affect the country’s ability to bring down its national debt, which stood at 243% of GDP in 2013, the highest worldwide. By contrast, U.S. debt levels — which have come under political scrutiny in recent years — were at 104% of GDP in 2013.

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5. France
> Military expenditure: $62.3 billion
> Expenditure as pct. of GDP: 2.2% (39th highest)
> 1-yr. spending change: -2.3% (35th lowest)
> Total arms imports: $43 million (55th highest)
> Total arms exports: $1.5 billion (4th highest)

Like much of Western Europe, France’s military expenditure has fallen in recent years. France spent nearly $70 billion in 2009, versus more $62 billion last year. This decrease, however, was relatively small given the country’s weak economic growth and implementation of the austerity measures after the global economic crisis. France passed the Military Programming Law in 2013, which aims to keep the current level of military spending through 2019. France exported nearly $1.5 billion in military goods last year, more than all but three other countries. French arms exports have historically ended up in Africa, where France maintains ties with many of its former colonies.