Fall in French arms sales blamed on pandemic

PARIS (AFP/APP): French arms exports fell by 41 percent in 2020 to 4.9 billion euros, with negotiations for major contracts disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, a defence ministry report showed Wednesday.

The report, submitted to parliament and seen by AFP before publication, said the sharp drop “does not reflect a fundamental trend”, with significant new deals clinched already in 2021.

Egypt announced in May that it had ordered 30 new Rafale fighter jets, reportedly worth around $4.8 billion, while Greece has also placed an order for 40 and Croatia another 12. French export figures have increased sharply in the last decade but they tend to fluctuated in line with orders for the Rafale that has also been acquired by India as well as Qatar.

French exports rose 44 percent in the period 2016-2020 compared with 2011-2015, making it the third-biggest global exporter behind the US and Russia, according to a recent analysis by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
While French overseas sales fell last year, the United States reported a 2.8-percent rise to $175.1 billion.

Overall in 2020, despite a global recession caused by Covid-19, defence spending increased globally by 2.6 per cent in real terms compared with 2019, data from SIPRI shows.