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Israeli defense exports may face snags

WASHINGTON, April 5 (UPI) -- Totals for 2010 Israeli defense exports should match the high of $7.4 billion reached in 2009 once figures for support and follow-on contracts are finalized.

But Forecast International, which provides market intelligence and analyses for the aerospace, defense, military electronic and power systems industries, quotes Israeli defense officials as warning that defense export growth may come to a halt as Israel's relations with Turkey, once-dependable customer, are strained and European nations continue to cut defense spending.

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While India and North America are Israel's largest defense trading partners, U.S. military demand is expected to slow in the face of debt pressures and Israel's growing diplomatic isolation may serve to erode sales opportunities abroad, it said.

About 80 percent of all Israeli defense products are exported. The country's export order totals have steadily grown, reaching $3.5 billion in 2005, $4.9 billion in 2006, $5.6 billion in 2007 and $6.6 billion in 2008, Forecast International reported.

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