When it comes to Canada’s (and other members’) NATO contribution, Donald Trump may actually be right.
Once again, Trump has attacked members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) , saying they aren’t “paying their fair share.”
In an interview on Sunday night (only five days from his inauguration), the Republican President-elect called NATO “obsolete because it wasn’t taking care of terror.”
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, speaking ahead of an EU foreign ministers’ meeting, said Trump’s view on NATO and his criticism of member states has “caused astonishment.”
Are his remarks really astonishing? Or should Canada, and other NATO members be coughing up more dough?
While 2015 data shows that the United States pays significantly more than other countries, there’s a reason for that.
According to the NATO website, funding is based on “an agreed cost-share formula, based on Gross National Income, which represents a small percentage of each member’s defence budget.”
That means each member country’s contribution is based on their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
NATO’s goal is for each member to contribute about two per cent of their GDP to defence spending.
Data for 2016 isn’t publicly available yet, but 2015 numbers show that the United States is over the suggested goal.
Out of 27 member countries (there was no data available for the 28th country, Iceland) only five met or exceed the two per cent goal: the U.K. (2.07%), Poland (2.18%), Estonia (2.04%), Greece (2.46%) and the U.S. (3.62%).
The U.S. — with the biggest GDP in the world — contributed around US$650 billion to NATO’s budget in 2015.
By comparison, the U.K.’s 2.07 per cent contribution of its GDP, amounts to a NATO commitment of US$60 billion.
All in all, the U.S. contributed more than double what all the other members kicked in combined.
The other countries — Canada included — contribute less. Canada spent about one per cent of its GDP on defence, half of the suggested target, which amounted to around US$15 billion in 2015, according to NATO.
Only seven countries are behind Canada in reaching their goal.
U.S. President Barack Obama encouraged Canada to up its game during a speech to the House of Commons in November saying, “The world needs more Canada, NATO needs more Canada.”
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But Canada’s top soldier, Gen. Jonathan Vance, says measuring Canada’s contributions based solely on defence spending doesn’t provide the whole picture.
Vance said in November that Canada is pulling its weight with NATO in many other ways, including a promise to lead a NATO force in Latvia.
The department of National Defence has so far not replied to a request for updated numbers.
— With a file from the Associated Press