Offsets and French Arms Exports
Offsets can play an important role in securing arms sales and the French experience bears this out. However, offsets have not always been so crucial. Indeed, the importance of offsets really began when the North European NATO countries were looking to order replacement combat aircraft in the mid-1970s. Competition to secure this order was intense and, since then, offsets have grown in popularity with the precise package offered usually being tailored to the requirements of the purchaser. The analysis of offsets is hampered by the absence of precise contract details. However, the need for such an analysis is particularly strong as, in the 1990s, new forms of offset are developing as aggressive exporters, backed by their respective governments, seek sales in an ever shrinking defence market.