French industry booked arms export orders worth 6.58 billion euros in 2008, up 13% over the previous year and the highest figure for nearly a decade, according to the French defense ministry’s latest report to Parliament on arms exports.
However, 2008 orders were substantially lower than the 8.15 billion euros (constant euros) booked in 2000, the report states, adding that France is struggling to maintain its ranking as the world’s fourth or fifth-largest arms exporter. Major buyers of French weapons in the past decade (1999-2008) were the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Greece and India, the report states. French export deliveries, however, declined substantially in 2008, to 3.17 billion compared to 4.66 billion euros in 2007. Arguably, as export revenue is generated by deliveries and not orders, this measure is the more significant indicator. The report states that in 2007, the last year for which global figures are available, France ranked in fourth position in terms of orders, with a 7.2% market share, behind the United States (49%), the United Kingdom (15%) and Russia (8%) but in front of Israel (6%). That year, world arms exports are estimated at 67 billion euros by the report.
The report was submitted to parliamentarians last week, and publicly released during a Sept. 28 press conference here. It examines the global arms market, French arms export policies, the legal framework and control mechanisms for arms exports, and 20 pages of annexes breaking down exports by category, customer and region. It is only available in French.