The Defense Ministry has reported that exports of weapons systems and Israeli-developed technologies were down $1 billion in 2014 compared to the previous year. However, arms exports to African states were up 40 percent in the same period.
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According to figures released by the ministry, export deals worth $5.66 billion were signed with Israeli defense industry companies in 2014. The 2013 total had been $6.5 billion, itself a $1 billion drop from 2012 figures. According to the ministry, the 12.9 percent drop stemmed from a reduction in defense budgets and acquisition programs in the United States and Europe. In some of these countries, there is a demand by local politicians for the use of local firms, which affects the level of trade with Israeli companies.
“Export figures reflect the difficulties that even the leading exporters of defense systems have to contend with, including the global budgetary crisis – especially in developed nations – alongside increasing competition over each contract in existing markets,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Whereas exports are dropping in key areas where Israel is considered a major arms exporter, such as Asia and North America, there was an increase in exports to Africa. Last year, deals worth $318 million were signed – a 40 percent increase over the preceding year, which was also considered a record year.
Compared to the Asian and Pacific markets, which in 2014 purchased Israeli arms and technologies to the tune of $3 billion, the sales in Africa aren’t that large. However, a source at the Defense Ministry said countries in Africa and Latin America are the only ones in which markets are still expanding, with a growing demand for arms and military technology, as well as equipment dedicated to internal security needs.
Israel is still considered one of the top 10 arms exporters in the world. According to Defense Ministry officials, most of the acquisitions in 2014 were for improvements to planes and aerial systems, as well as sales of electronic warfare and signals intelligence systems, armament, aerial defense systems and radar, and drones (UAVs).