Asia’s military spending to exceed that of Europe in 2012 - IISS
By Lénaïc Vaudin d’Imécourt | Thursday 08 March 2012
Asia’s defence spending is likely to exceed that of Europe in 2012, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said, on 7 March. In its annual assessment of global military capabilities – ‘The military balance’ – the IISS noted that since the 2008 financial crisis, global trends have changed, leading to a convergence in European and Asian defence spending levels. “While per capita spending levels in Asia remain significantly lower than those in Europe, on the current trend Asian defence spending is likely to exceed that of Europe, in nominal terms, during 2012,” IISS Chief Executive John Chipman confirmed.
Faced with significant decreases in defence spending, European countries are exploring ways to pool and share their defence capabilities. According to Chipman, at least 16 European members of NATO have reduced their spending in said sector, and “in a significant proportion of these, real-term declines have exceeded 10%.” The effects of these cuts across European states were brought into focus by the campaign in Libya, “which highlighted existing gaps”. Meanwhile, Asian countries are becoming increasingly militarised. “In 2011, Asian defence spending increased overall by 3.15% in real terms,” Chipman said. China is leading the pack as it increased its share of regional expenditure to more than 30% and in 2011 its official expenditure “was more than two-and-a-half times the 2001 level”.
“There is little chance that defence budgets will reverse their downward trend any time soon” in Europe, Chipman claimed. However, the global trends highlighted in the report “do not necessarily translate into an immediate shift in global military capabilities,” he predicted. The West will now have to demonstrate its ability to retain a high level of military skills “in an age of fiscal austerity”.