Egypt tops list of French arms importers in 2021 despite economic recession

Egypt tops list of French arms importers in 2021 despite economic recession
Egypt spent more money than any other country on French weapons in 2021, according to a new report, despite years of economic woes.
2 min read
28 September, 2022
Egypt says the arms deals are necessary for its national security [Getty]

Egypt was the top arms importer from France in 2021, a French parliamentary report has revealed, despite fears of an economic recession in the Middle Eastern country.

Cairo requested to purchase arms worth 4.5 billion euros (US$4.3 billion) from France last year, putting it far ahead of Middle East powers like Saudi Arabia, which has spent 381 million euros (US$369 million), and the United Arab Emirates, according to the report.

French arms exports doubled in 2021 to reach 11.7 billion euros (US$11.3 billion), including 5.2 billion euros (US$5 billion) worth of arms to the Near and Middle East, accounting for 44% of total sales.

France has previously been criticised for supplying arms to Egypt due to the latter country's poor human rights record and detention of tens of thousands of political opponents. Egypt says these deals are necessary for its national security.

In March, the US Senate backed the $2.2 billion sale of C-130 Super Hercules planes to Egypt.

President Joe Biden's administration had earlier said it would deny $130 million of military aid - or 10% of the total allocated to Egypt - if the country did not address human rights concerns.

The purchases have been made despite Egypt’s economy - already hit by Covid-19 - suffering as a result of the Ukraine crisis and the local currency continuing to spiral down.

A Bloomberg report said last month that Cairo was reportedly eyeing up the possibility of raising around $2.5 billion in loans.

The Egyptian government has already resorted to help from the International Monetary Fund three times in recent years and is currently relying on financing from Gulf Arab countries to keep the economy afloat.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged more than $22 billion in deposits and investments.

Egypt has been among the worst-hit countries in the Middle East and North Africa region by a grain supply crisis that has resulted from the war in Ukraine, further exacerbated by global inflation.