TAIWAN RANKS 19TH IN THE WORLD IN DEFENSE SPENDING
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, March 2 (CNA) Taiwan spent US$7.3 billion on national defense in 2003, ranking 19th in the world, the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting & Statistics (DGBAS) reported Wednesday.
Taiwan's 2003 defense budget was far less than the US$32.8 billion spent by mainland China in the same year, DGBAS officials said.
Quoting the latest yearbook published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), DGBAS officials said that the world spent US$879 billion on arms in 2003, a record high since 1992, when such world spending totaled around US$847 billion.
The world military spending has gradually dropped since 1992 and the end of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union disintegrated, to the lowest point in six years of US$693 billion in 1998, DGBAS officials quoted the SIPRI report as indicating.
Beginning in 1998, however, world defense expenditure has risen yearly, to the 11-year high of US$879 billion in 2003, DGBAS officials said.
According to the SIPRI Yearbook, the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, France and mainland China, in that order, were the top five defense-spending countries in the world, accounting for a total of more than 60 percent of the total military spending worldwide in 2003. The United States now accounts for 43 percent of world military expenditure.
The yearbook also notes marked regional disparities in military expenditure, DGBAS officials said, adding that in 2003, Saudi Arabia spent 9.8 percent of its GDP on the military, compared to the United States' 3.4 percent, Taiwan's 2.3 percent and China's 2.5 percent. Following Saudi Arabia, the four other top countries in terms of disparity were Israel, with 9.2 percent, Turkey, with 4.9 percent, Russia, with 4.0 percent and Iran, also with 4.0 percent.
Taiwan spent 2.3 percent of its GDP on defense in 2003, a decline of 2.3 percentage points from the 1994 level, DGBAS officials said.
(By Deborah Kuo)
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