Gaining Ground: Some 1,501 companies are expected to attend the Eurosatory trade show in Paris next month, up 6 percent from the 2012 exhibition. (AFP/Getty Images)
PARIS — France has declined to invite Russian and Ukrainian official delegations, while Japanese firms have booked for the first time at the Eurosatory exhibition for land defense systems and security, according to the show’s organizer.
The trade show will run June 16-20, and is backed by the defense and interior ministries. Defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is due to visit the exhibition on the first day.
“Official invitations from the French government were not sent, neither to Russia or the Ukraine,” Patrick Colas des Francs, head of show organizer Coges, told journalists Thursday. Coges organizes the biennial show for the French trade body Groupement des Industries Françaises de Défense Terrestre et Aéroterrestre (GICAT).
A Paris decision to withdraw an official invitation to both Moscow and Kiev is an attempt to appear balanced and avoid a diplomatic upset, a defense executive said.
However, at the exhibitor level, Russian and Ukrainian industry have held on to their bookings, Colas des Francs said. Russian companies began booking some 18 months ago, with 27 signed up and displays spread over some 700 square meters.
France invited a Russian official delegation at the previous show in 2012, he said.
From Ukraine, Ukroboronprom State Concern, a defense umbrella organization, and Therma Vision Technologies have booked a total 60 square meters.
Some Ukrainian companies face complications as they build equipment on Russian licenses, a second executive said.
Fourteen Japanese firms on 250 square meters is “really new,” as the figure was zero at the previous show, Colas de France said.
Le Drian and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius met their Japanese counterparts in Paris on Jan. 9 and decided to pursue defense industrial cooperation, Colas des Francs said. French companies attended a meeting in Tokyo in April, and there will further meetings at Eurosatory with the Direction Générale de l’Armament procurement office “piloting” the pursuit of defense and security cooperation, he said.
The Japanese presence reflects Tokyo’s recent decision to allow arms exports, said Luc Viellard, strategic studies and solutions director at consultancy Cie Européenne d’Intelligence Stratégique.
“Eurosatory is the first illustration of Japan’s change in posture,” he said.
Japan’s booking into the show also reflects a fierce global competition in the land weapons sector, more so than in the fighter and naval markets.
There are more suppliers of armored vehicles as the buy-in price to be a manufacturer is low, and that commercial drive extends to artillery, he said.
Fujitsu, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Toshiba will be among the Japanese firms at the show.
China will be also there, with some 20 firms, Colas des Francs said. As there is an arms embargo following the shooting at Tiananmen Square, Chinese companies are restricted to civilian security gear such as radios, he said.
Companies from Argentina, Colombia, Hong Kong and Iraq will appear for the first time.
The exhibition has so far booked 1,467 firms, with 34 more companies in the process of signing up. The expected 1,501 total is up 6 percent from the previous show.
France has invited 160 official delegations from 108 countries, compared with 152 delegations last time.
The US is the largest international presence at the show, with 137 companies, followed by Germany, Britain and Israel with 118, 105 and 51, respectively. The 57 countries at the exhibition compares with a previous 53.
Poland and the US have cut bookings slightly, Colas des Francs said.
United Arab Emirates has significantly boosted its presence, with 23 companies compared with 11 in 2012. The space booked has more than doubled to 1,650 square meters.
Defense budgets in Europe and the US are being cut, but a strong international presence reflects rises in emerging markets in Southeast Asia and South America, while the Middle East remains stable, he said. Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru have boosted their military, while Mexico City has also awarded a big security contract to electronics company Thales, he said.
The increasing security needs among governments and commercial companies, including a demand for non-lethal weapons, are among the drivers for growth at the show, Colas de France said. ■
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to clarify the number of delegations and countries invited.