TEL AVIV — Israeli defense sales last year plunged to their lowest point in seven years, with just $5.66 billion in new contracts signed in 2014, according to data released Thursday by the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

The 2014 year-end figures mark a nearly $1 billion dip from 2013 levels, and some $1.7 billion less than all-time highs recorded in 2012 and 2009.

In those peak years, Israel's MoD reported $7.4 billion in new business, more than a third coming from Asia-Pacific customers, and at least $1 billion coming from the North American market.

Last year, according to data released May 21, Asia-Pacific customers accounted for $2.96 billion — much more than half of new contracts signed. North America claimed $937 million in new orders, followed by Europe ($724 million), Latin America ($716 million) and Africa ($318 million).

While the May 21 statement by MoD's Sibat Export and Defense Cooperation Authority did not provide comparative data from previous years, records retained by Defense News show that only in 2007 did defense sales not exceed $6 billion.

According to records, Sibat recorded $6.54 billion in 2013; $7.4 billion in 2012; $7.1 billion in 2011; $7.3 billion in 2010; $7.4 billion in 2009; $6.3 billion in 2008; and $5.6 billion in 2007.

The May 21 statement acknowledged that 2014 was challenging not only for Israel, but for arms suppliers worldwide.

Last year "continued the trend of constrained defense budgets and large equipment programs in central markets like the United States and Europe," Sibat noted.

By Ministry of Defense figures, 2014 data, reported MoD, "reflects the difficulties that leading defense exporters worldwide have to contend with, among them a global budgetary crisis, especially in advanced nations, alongside increased competition for every contact in existing markets."