PARIS --- The Ministry of the Armed Forces submitted to Parliament on June 1 the annual report on France’s arms exports.
Responding to the need for transparency vis-à-vis the representatives of the nation, the 2020 edition follows on from the previous report. More precise and documented, this edition aims to be more accessible. It incorporates, for the first time, the annual report sent to the United Nations under the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
The 2020 edition will be presented by Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, at a forthcoming hearing before the National Defense and Armed Forces Commission of the National Assembly.
The 2020 edition of the report to Parliament on France’s arms exports (123 PDF pages, in French) is available here.
Introduction by the Minister of the Armed Forces:
"Since 1998, the Ministry of the Armed Forces has annually submitted to the national Parliament a report detailing France's arms exports. Never has the submission of this report taken place in such a disrupted context: at the heart of a global health crisis, after a particularly tumultuous year 2019 which saw the rise of protectionism, the increase in tensions between major powers and the erosion of international mechanisms designed to contain tensions and ease rivalries.
“The pandemic we are going through is exacerbating existing challenges and we must avoid the economic shock that the world is going through affecting our defense industrial and technological base. This is a question of sovereignty.
“But we must be lucid: this crisis will affect our industries, and it will test public budgets. Our foreign partners will be even more demanding, even more attentive to the industrial returns from their defense investments: competition will be fierce. We are aware of this and we are taking action to put ourselves in battle order.
“At the heart of the export policy that I have been pursuing for three years, there is a resolute and committed choice: that of strengthening our European partnerships. I am therefore proud to announce that in 2019, European Union customers accounted for 42% of order intake from our manufacturers (and almost 45% including other European countries, outside the EU). Three European countries - Belgium, Hungary and Spain - are among our top five customers. These results are unprecedented, and they are not accidental.
“The agreement we concluded in October 2019 with Germany on the export of defense equipment is also a major step forward to support cooperative programs and the exchange of components between our manufacturers.
“We have made a reasoned choice for Europe, and we are now measuring all its relevance: it is a question of creating partnerships, fostering cooperation and the interoperability of our armies with the aim of acting together. This is the European defense construct.
“In 2020, we are continuing this pro-European export policy. We work on a daily basis to create new partnerships and also to bring out new instruments that will promote the creation of a real European defense equipment market.
“The crisis we are facing reinforces this desire to develop the European defense industry and technological base. We have work on this front, but we also have ideas and ambitions: to provide the European defense fund with a substantial budget, to develop European funding for the acquisition of defense equipment, to advocate greater market regulation, to promote European projects without external dependencies and to remove export barriers for the capabilities jointly developed by European countries.
“2019 confirms once again that the French military equipment is a world reference, well-known and recognized. The amount of export orders this year amounts to 8.33 billion euros. Our offer is appreciated because it adapts to the needs of the armed forces of our customer nations, and knows how to interact with foreign defense industries. An equally varied offer, from large armament programs to small equipment and innovations from our SMEs, which are part of the showcase of French know-how and excellence.
“This showcase is a treasure that we must preserve and that we will have to fructify. From SMEs to large groups, our defense industry mobilizes investments that add to the vitality of our economy and create non-relocatable jobs everywhere in France. Supporting the defense industry is protecting French jobs, and develops the vitality of our territories. For this, it will therefore be essential that we maintain a voluntary and committed export policy.
“We will continue to pursue this policy in strict compliance with the requirements that apply to arms exports, in full compliance with our international values and commitments. We will not make any concessions on this rigorous framework, any more than on the requirement of transparency vis-à-vis the French people.
“This is the raison d'être of this report, published for the second consecutive edition in a redesigned format to bring more clarity and ease of reading to controlling arms exports, and which for the first time integrates the annual report drawn up under the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)."
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The 2019 total of €8.3 billion in new orders is almost 9% lower than in 2018, when they totaled €9.1 billion.
Deliveries increased very substantially in 2019, to €9.9 billion compared to €7 billion in 2018 (+ 41%) of which the Middle East accounted for two-thirds (€6.4 billion), mostly due to the delivery of Rafale fighters to Qatar.
Deliveries of weapons to Saudi Arabia totaled €1.38 billion in 2019, for 34 unspecified armored combat vehicles; 20 units of 105mm artillery and 521 unspecified “tactical vehicles.”)
-- June 3, 2020 @ 13:00 CET: deleted part of Editor's Note about artillery deliveries to Saudi Arabia.