French arms exports in 2014 ‘best in 15 years’

French arms exports rose 18 percent in 2014, according to a defence ministry report published Tuesday, the country's best export performance for 15 years.

France sold 8.2 billion euros ($9.1 billion) of weapons last year, mainly due to clinching five "large" contracts (defined as more than 200 million euros).

These large contracts represented a total of 4.79 billion euros — a gain of 71 percent compared to the previous year.

The positive figures should continue in 2015 with contracts to provide 24 Rafale combat jets to Egypt and the same amount to Qatar already in the bag.

The figures put France "solidly" in fourth place in terms of global arms exports, the report said, behind the United States, Russia and China.

France's main markets over the period 2010 to 2014 were the Middle East (38 percent), followed by Asia (30 percent).

After that came Europe (13 percent), the Americas (11 percent) and Africa (four percent).

The top French client over the period was Saudi Arabia, which snapped up 12 billion euros worth of weapons over the period — including three billion dollars bought to help the Lebanese army.

Then followed India (around six billion euros), Brazil (just under six billion), the United Arab Emirates (four billion), the United States and Morocco.

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