France loses ground in arms race

18th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 17 (AFP) - Sales of French arms around the world are declining because of stepped-up competition by the United States, Russia and Israel, the French defence ministry said Thursday.

PARIS, Feb 17 (AFP) - Sales of French arms around the world are declining because of stepped-up competition by the United States, Russia and Israel, the French defence ministry said Thursday.

Although France remains the third biggest weapons merchant after the United States and Britain, its share of the market is slipping, a report by the ministry covering sales in 2002-2003 showed.

"The Americans' effort to export is much bigger than it used to be," a senior official in the ministry's arms procurement and sales section, Jean-Paul Panie, said.

He added that Russia was also moving beyond the former Soviet states in eastern Europe in search of clients and "Israel is now aggressively marketing its exports."

From 1994 to 2003, French arms sales accounted for 12 percent of the world's total, and brought in an average EUR 5 billion (USD 6.5 billion) per year, the report said.

In 2002, however, sales were just EUR 4.4 billion, and in 2003 they were EUR 4.2 billion.

Together, the United States, Britain, France, Russia and Germany sell 90 percent of the weapons imported in the world, it added. The first three countries alone accounted for "more than three quarters of world arms exports".

Israel, China, Italy, Sweden and South Africa divided up most of the remaining 10 percent of arms sales.

France's biggest clients are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Greece, Britain, Pakistan and India.

Sale of "weapons that are not directly lethal" are also made to China, Panie said.

He added that surveillance equipment such as night-vision goggles were sold to Iran.

Libya was preparing to place an order for military equipment to shore up its defences badly eroded though years of recently lifted sanctions, he said.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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