Thanks mostly to Brazil and Paraguay, military expenditure in the twelve countries that comprise South America, according to 2008 budgets, has reached a record US$ 50 billion, which is 2.5% higher than in 2007.
A private report released this Wednesday, June 18, in Argentina titled Military Balance in South America, elaborated by the New Majority Studies from Buenos Aires reflect the increase in military spending which is considered relevant in the context of the Brazilian proposal for the creation of a Regional Defense Council.
"All countries have increased their defense budgets, with Paraguay leading (up 33.48%), a tendency followed by Brazil with a hike of 32.48%," said the report.
The four full members of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay) average 30% increase on an annual base with an overall expenditure of US$ 30.9 billion.
Military expenditure from the Andean Community of Nations (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru) has reached US$ 9.4 billion, while Chile figures with US$ 4.9 billion and Venezuela, US$ 3.3 billion.
"However in spite of the significant increase in military budgets, South America is still the region, together with the rest of Latinamerica, which less resources invested and has a lower percentage of GDP dedicated to defense," points out the report.
Overall military expenditure in the 12 countries considered represents 4% of total world military expenditure and 9% of the US defense budget.
The region on average spends 1.7% of GDP in military expenditure.
The two countries with the largest military outlays are Colombia and Chile equivalent to over 3% of GDP compared to Argentina and Venezuela with 1% on average, the two countries which nevertheless have most increased military investments in the last five years, points out Nueva Mayoría.