France, the world's third-biggest arms exporter after the US and Russia, has seen a sharp drop in defense exports in 2017 in the absence of major deals to sell new Rafale fighter jets, the defense ministry said Monday.
In its annual report to parliament, the defense ministry said the value of exports dropped to €6.9 billion ($8 billion) from €14 billion in 2016 and the record €17 billion logged in 2015. Those two years saw the first big export orders for Rafale jets made by Dassault Aviation – to Egypt, Qatar, and India.
“The results from 2017, with €6.9 billion, is in line with the average from years before the Rafale contracts,” the ministry said, adding that helicopters and missiles made up nearly half of last year's foreign orders.
The situation is expected to improve this year following Qatar’s acquisition of 12 additional Rafale jets. In March, the Gulf state has paid its down payment, allowing Dassault to record the deal in its 2018 order book.
The ministry said that orders from Middle East clients rose to €3.9 billion from €1.9 billion in 2016, despite an economic slowdown stemming from lower oil prices “which delayed some acquisition projects.”
The ministry also rejected 50 export contracts, mainly to governments in Central and Southern Asia. Defense Minister Florence Parly will present the report during an audition on 4 July with lawmakers, some of whom are pushing for more parliamentary control on arms sales.
[Source: Shepard Media]