PARIS (Reuters) - France and Germany have signed a binding deal on arm exports control rules for jointly developed programs, such as the tank and the warplane of the future, the two countries said on Wednesday in a statement issued after a joint cabinet meeting held in Toulouse.
German curbs on arms exports to non-European Union or non-NATO countries have been a thorn in bilateral co-operation for years. Germany's SPD party, part of the ruling coalition, is particularly concerned about the trade.
According to the deal signed on Wednesday, Germany will not block French exports to third countries provided equipment was made with less than 20% German components.
French firms, such as Nexter and Arquus, previously known as Renault Trucks Defense, say German restrictions have hindered export deals. Nexter was also worried about the feasibility of the tank of the future project (MGCS) that should be developed with German firm Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.
Airbus Defense & Space and Dassault equally complained that the SCAF fighter jet project with Germany and Spain could be left in limbo.
France and Germany tentatively agreed to speed up the development of the warplane in the next few months, French President Emmanuel Macron said during a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The two countries will sign in January 2020 a deal to develop the SCAF demonstrator program, French minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly said on Twitter.
Besides defense deals, Paris and Berlin also said they agreed to give preferential treatment to European companies for the launch of space rockets.
(Writing by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Tangi Salaün; Editing by John Irish)