He declined to discuss any specific arms sales, but noted that Singapore, Indonesia, and Australia had been key partners in defense trade in recent years. South Korea is also expected to announce the winner of its 60-fighter competition soon.
Shapiro said his office had dramatically increased its advocacy for U.S. weapons makers under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and her successor, John Kerry, planned to continue the “economic diplomacy” initiative.
Shapiro said State Department representatives planned to attend a major air show in Paris in June, despite mandatory budget cuts required under a process known as sequestration, but said officials would have to be conservative about the number of air shows they attended.
He said sequestration-related furloughs could also slow the Pentagon’s work on export license requests, which threatened to slow or reverse progress made by the State Department in accelerating work on the licenses to 17 days on average now from 40 to 60 days several years ago.
“Those processing times are likely to increase at a time when we’re trying to increase our defense trade. That’s not the best signal to send,” Shapiro said.