Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Massive US Spending on NATO 'Not Acceptable'

Massive US Spending on NATO 'Not Acceptable'

Vladimir Putin is a competitor but getting along with Russia is a "good thing", Donald Trump told the press before embarking for Europe, causing another Twitter meltdown ahead of his summit with the Russian leader next week.

In direct costs, the US now pays about 22 percent of NATO's "principal budgets" that are funded by all alliance members based on a cost-sharing formula that factors in the gross national income of each country.

Trump, however, is referring to so-called indirect spending, which is the amount that the USA and other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries willingly spend on their own defense budgets.

Some of Europe's counters to Trump, including May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, arrive with heavy domestic political baggage of their own, making them vulnerable in negotiations with Trump as they seek to protect the Western alliance from his impulses on defense spending and trade.

"Is the President just going to focus on defense spending and basically hijack the entire conversation?" says Heather Conley, director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "This is not fair, nor is it acceptable", he said. "Not fair to the USA taxpayer", he posted on his Twitter account. On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union.

Last month, the United States raised fears of a trade war by slapping tariffs on steel and aluminium from the EU, Canada, Mexico and other United States allies.

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According to an internal European Union memo obtained by Bloomberg and using BEA figures, when including trade in goods, trade in services and primary income from investments, the USA has a 12 billion-euro surplus with the EU.

"Wow!" And in multiple tweets, he reiterated a familiar theme, complaining that the U.S. is shouldering an unfair share of defense costs overseas: "NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS", he tweeted.

The United States, Greece, Estonia, United Kingdom, and Latvia are meeting the two-percent goal this year.

Asked on Tuesday if the Russian president was a "friend or foe", Trump remarked: "I really can't say right now". He believes that many of them are effectively getting a free ride, want the U.S. to take their security more seriously than they do themselves, and are taking advantage of the USA in defense as well as in trade. "Donald Trump is a President whose values at not those of the British people".

European officials say while U.S. defence spending makes up 70 percent of combined allied governments' military budgets, just 15 percent of United States expenditure is spent in Europe on NATO-related defence. "But above all when you meet President Putin in Helsinki", he said. He also has placed Germany at the centre of his complaints about a U.S.

Mr Tusk also said that the USA did not and would not have a better ally than the EU, reminding the president that it was European troops who had fought and died in Afghanistan after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the US.

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