PARIS — 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 ($9.1 billion) of weapons last year, mainly due to clinching five "large" contracts (defined as more than €200 million).
These large contracts represented a total of €4.79 billion — 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 (4 percent).
The top French client over the period was Saudi Arabia, which snapped up €12 billion worth of weapons over the period — including $3 billion bought to help the Lebanese army.
Then followed India (around €6 billion), Brazil (just under €6 billion), the United Arab Emirates (€4 billion), the United States and Morocco.