Baku, May 28, AZERTAC
Sweden intends to increase defense spending to at least 2% of its gross domestic product by 2028, Swedish Finance Minister Mikael Damberg said in an interview with Japan’s Nikkei Asia.
The country currently spends about 1.3% of its GDP on defense.
Sweden has applied to join NATO, which requests that member states spend at least 2% of GDP on defense. Sweden will increase its spending to that level over the next six years.
Nikkei spoke with Damberg on the sidelines of the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Sweden applied for NATO membership on May 18. Stockholm has abandoned its roughly 200-year policy of neutrality to join the collective defense pact and will increase military spending to join the alliance.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Sweden spent $7.9 billion on defense in 2021 and it has maintained a spending-to-GDP ratio of just over 1% for the past decade. Defense spending should rise "as fast as possible when it's practical," Damberg said. "The military has said it thinks it can [reach 2% of GDP] by 2028."
Even if Sweden's GDP does not grow, the country will need more than $4 billion in additional defense spending to reach the 2% threshold. Damberg said the government would work to avoid cutting spending in other areas to secure funds for defense. "[We] will need to talk about long-term financing," he said, indicating that he would not rule out increasing the issuance of government bonds.
Regarding Sweden's defense posture after joining NATO, Damberg said, "We don't see a need to have permanent [NATO] bases in Sweden. We don't need to see nuclear weapons on Swedish soil."
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