During a meeting with members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Wednesday, President Trump said countries should increase defense spending to 4% of gross domestic product (GDP) – double the current target of 2%.
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The president made the remarks less a formal proposal, but while urging members to up their contributions and promote fair burden sharing across the organization.
“President Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
The alliance set a goal in 2014 for each country to reach the 2% of GDP spending target by 2024.
While NATO members increased overall defense spending in 2017, for a second consecutive year, the United States was still largely outspending all other members.
The United States spent more than 3.5% of its GDP on defense in 2017, or about $685 billion, according to a NATO report. While that is down from more than $740 billion in 2011, it’s still well above the outlay of all other members. In 2017, the U.S. is estimated to have spent more than 69% of the cumulative total.
In 2018, the U.S. defense budget is $706 billion.
Meanwhile, NATO members in Europe contributed a total of $249.7 billion to their defense budgets and spent an average of 1.46% of GDP.
Canada only contributed 1.29% of its GDP, while Germany – which has drawn criticism from President Trump – spent 1.24% of its GDP on defense last year. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said her government will increase spending to 1.5% of GDP by 2024.
Only three countries aside from the U.S. – Estonia, Greece and the U.K. – are currently spending above the NATO guideline of 2% on defense. Poland’s spending, however, was at 1.99% of GDP.