Data Stories: NATO Defense Spending

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By Aaron Lin, Senior Market Analyst

US President Donald Trump’s recent statements about NATO’s defense spending re-ignited debate over how much money NATO member states should be spending on defense. While having a member state spend 2% of their GDP on defense has been the stated goal since 2010, Trump went further last week by saying that he wanted NATO member states to spend 4% of GDP on defense.

While increases to 4% will almost certainly not happen in the foreseeable future, it raises the issue of how much more each member state would be contributing were they to reach the 2% threshold that has already been agreed upon. Depending on how far a given country is from a given GDP target, reaching that target may yield additional defense spending contributions that range from marginal to major. The charts below examine the following metrics in different charts:

  1. 2018 Defense Spending
  2. 2018 Defense Spending at 2% of GDP
  3. Additional 2018 Funding Needed to Reach 2% of GDP

Although these charts use 2018 GDP and spending figures, and NATO members have until 2024 to hit the 2% threshold, the charts give a sense of how far each country still has to go to reach 2%. We also examine historical levels of spending of the top seven spenders in NATO.

2018 Defense Spending

2018 Defense Spending at 2% of GDP

Additional 2018 Funding Needed to Reach 2% of GDP

The chart below takes SIPRI Military Expenditure data to give some historical context to NATO defense spending trends for the seven largest NATO members by defense spending.

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