NATO's 2018 annual report: Which ally makes Trump happier?
NATO's 2018 annual report was released on Thursday. Which country can win more smiles from U.S. President Donald Trump? Let's find out.
Last year, Trump demanded his allies double NATO's defense spending goal of two percent of GDP, adding that the U.S., "in actual numbers," is spending 4.2 percent of its GDP on defense. However, NATO countries have only promised to try to hit two percent by 2024.
Who hit the goal?
Seven of the 29 NATO countries: U.S., Britain, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Who got closer?
Bulgaria, the Baltics and the Netherlands jumped some 20 percent in 2018 compared to 2017. Romania is also close to reaching the target.
European allies reached the 1.51-percent level, a five-year high, closer to a pledge to dedicate two percent of national economic output on defense every year.
Who fell behind?
Canada fell by almost 11 percent last year. While Germany invested around 1.70 billion U.S. dollars more on defense in 2018, its spending as a percentage of GDP was stable at 1.23.
Belgium and Spain remain at below one percent of GDP while Italy's spending failed to rise as a percentage of the economy.
NATO countries spent almost a trillion U.S. dollars on defense in 2018, according to the report, with just under 70 percent of that made up by the United States.
"We face a paradox," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference as the report was released. "At a time when some are questioning the strength of the transatlantic bond, we are actually doing more together... than ever before."
In 2018 Washington spent nearly 700 billion U.S. dollars on defense, compared with just 280 billion U.S. dollars for all the European NATO allies combined.
Last month a report by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) showed that European NATO members would “collectively have had to increase their spending by 38 percent” to hit the two-percent target in 2018.
A day earlier, the U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi extended a rare invitation to the head of NATO to address a joint meeting of Congress in early April to mark the alliance's 70th anniversary. The top Democrat said the invitation was made on behalf of Democrats and Republicans in Congress.
Washington is scheduled to host a NATO ministerial meeting on April 3 and 4.