France, with about $7 billion of booked orders in 2010, maintained its position as the world\'s fourth-largest exporter of defense equipment. The importance of exports for the survival of the country\'s defense industrial base is crucial, the Ministry of Defense said. French industry, dependent on public procurement, increasingly turns to export the export market, which accounts for 32 percent of sales for aerospace and defense companies. The geography of French exports remains broadly stable. During the 2006-10 period, the Middle East accounted for 27 percent of orders booked by French industry; Latin America, at 25 percent, has almost reached the same level, mainly because of large contracts with Brazil. Asia accounts for 18 percent of business while Europe totals 17 percent of defense and aerospace export orders. The ministry said France\'s main export customers in 2010 were Saudi Arabia, Brazil, India and Malaysia. It said that this year and next could be pivotal years as France is competing for several large contracts, which it didn\'t detail in its report. The United States, Russia and Germany are the top three industry exporters.