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Trump Effect? NATO Allies Increase Defense Spending By 4.3 Percent

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NATO estimates Canada and European allies will increase defense spending by 4.3 percent in 2017, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced Wednesday.

The alliance has seen a cumulative increase of $46 billion since 2014, when the 2 percent of gross domestic product target was agreed upon.

“To keep our nations safe, we need to keep working to increase defense spending and fairer burden-sharing across our alliance,” Stoltenberg said at a news conference ahead of a meeting between defense ministers in Brussels. “After years of decline, in 2015 we saw a real increase in defense spending across European allies and Canada … this year, we foresee an even greater real increase of 4.3 percent.”

Out of NATO’s 28 members, 25 are expected to increase defense spending in 2017. The investments come after harsh criticism from President Donald Trump, who called NATO “obsolete” during his presidential campaign.

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned allies of a more “moderate” U.S. commitment to NATO if countries don’t up their defense spending.

“America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals needs to show its support for our common defense,” Mattis said at a meeting with defense ministers in February.

Just a handful of NATO members currently spend more than 2 percent of GDP on defense. The United Kingdom, Greece, Poland and Estonia are the only countries besides the U.S. to meet the target, according to NATO’s 2016 figures.

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