Egypt has topped the list of arms importers from France in 2021 thanks to an order of 30 Rafale fighter jets, making the Middle East the largest arms buyer from France last year, according to an annual parliamentary report published yesterday.
In 2021, Egypt requested the purchase of French weapons worth €4.5 billion, ($4.5 billion) followed by Greece (€2 billion), Croatia (€971 million), India (€492 million) and Saudi Arabia (€381 million), according to the report published by Challenges magazine.
French arms exports doubled in 2021 to €11.7 billion, including €5.2 billion worth of arms exports to the Near and Middle East; 44 per cent of Paris' total sales, the publication reported.
Exports to Europe, where France seeks to redirect its activity, accounted for 38 per cent of purchase orders in 2021, amounting to €3.9 billion.
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Armed Forces Minister Sébastien Lecornu wrote in the report's foreword that with €11.7 billion of orders in 2021, "France recorded its third historically high level in arms exports", adding that 2022 will also see significant results.
This year France concluded a huge contract with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the sale of 80 Rafale aircraft in addition to the sale of six of these combat aircraft and three frigates to Greece.
The report stresses that "increasing geopolitical tensions and the crisis in Ukraine are expected to contribute to maintaining high levels of military spending and enhancing the Europeans' needs for security," noting that "several countries including Germany, Denmark, Poland and Norway have announced budget increases for defence."
The 2021 figures place France as the third largest exporter of military equipment in the world after the United States and Russia.