In a turn for the worse for the Israeli foreign export market, Israel had their lowest year in the past seven in churning out new defense contracts, reaping in only $5.56 billion in 2014.
The low plummeted a full $1 billion from the previous year’s mark of $6.5 billion in signed contracts in 2013. According to the Ministry of Defense, the decline is due to the diminishing defense budgets of partnering countries and acquisition programs initiated by the US as well as various European nations.
Israel is considered to be among the top ten arms exporters in the world. The all time highs were reported in 2009 and 2012 with a total of $7.4 billion dollars in new contracts signed during those years. During the high times, over a third of all acquisitions came from East Asia and Pacific rim countries. Additionally, over these years, $1 billion came from North American markets.
A source in the Defense Ministry said that markets in Latin America and Africa are the only ones that are still expanding. While geographically Africa ranked second to last of all continents in defense contracts, $318 million in defense equipment and technology was purchased by nations on the neighboring continent.
African defense contracts in 2014 marked a 40 percent rise, up from the previous years sales of only $223 million. Arms deals with African countries have risen steadily on an annual basis since 2009. However, as African states are not considered major buyers, the numbers were down.
Last year marked the second time ever that Israeli defense sales failed to reach $6 billion. The only other time that has occurred in the recent past was in 2007.
In a statement released to the press on Thursday, the Defense Ministry excused the low numbers on a worldwide lack of purchasing, claiming that 2014 was challenging not only for Israel but for arms suppliers worldwide.
“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.