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Australia aims to become top arms exporter

Australia aims to become top arms exporter article image

The Australian government has launched a $3.8 billion strategy aimed at significantly boosting defence exports.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia was looking to become a become a top 10 global defence exporter by 2028.

The Defence Export Strategy would help to create jobs and enhance the country’s defence capabilities.

“It will give Australian defence companies the support they need to grow, invest and deliver defence capability. It will make Australian defence exports among the best in the world,” he said.

Mr Turnbull said $20 million per year will be allocated to deliver the strategy. Of this, $4.1 million will used for grants to help build the capability of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to compete internationally, while $3.2 million will be used to enhance and expand the Global Supply Chain program to help SMEs export their capabilities overseas.

As part of the strategy, a Defence Export Office will be set up under the Department of Defence.

The Office – together with Austrade and the Centre for Defence Industry Capability – will become the central point for delivering the strategy.

Priority markets for defence exports

An Australian Defence Export Advocate will also be appointed to coordinate the efforts between government and industry, Mr Turnbull said.

Currently, Australia achieves between $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion per year in defence exports. The strategy has identified the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand as priority markets for defence exports.

The $3.8 billion fund will be administered by Efic, Australia’s export credit agency, which will help Australian companies get the finance they need to underpin the sales of their equipment overseas.

Mr Turnbull said the decision to involve the Efic is because it will “provide confidence to Australian Defence industry to identify and pursue new export opportunities".

In a joint statement Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne and Defence Minister Marise Payne said a strong, resilient and internationally competitive Australian defence industry is essential to our national security.

Defence industry for the future

“As we implement the largest renewal of Australia’s defence capability since the Second World War, we are building the defence industry we need for the future.

“The capability we are growing and nurturing within our defence industry to design, build, integrate, sustain, and support our defence capability will also underpin our export success.”

The Government recognises that Australian industry cannot sustain itself on the needs of the Australian Defence Force alone.

“New markets and opportunities to diversify are required to help unlock the full potential of Australian industry to grow, innovate, and support Defence’s future needs. Exports will provide our defence industry with greater certainty of future investment and support high-end manufacturing jobs for Australians for generations to come.”

The Ministers said Government is committed to partnering with Australian industry to pursue and secure export opportunities.

Sensitive Australian technologies

“The Strategy recognises that the Australian Government’s support for exports must be balanced within our broader national interests. We will continue to ensure that our export efforts are consistent with maintaining the Australian Defence Force’s warfighting advantage, including in how we manage sensitive Australian technologies.

“The Strategy provides $20 million in additional annual funding from 2018-19 to support Australia’s defence exports. Our integrated approach includes increased investment in existing export support programs as well as new initiatives in Australia and a greater presence overseas to pursue defence export opportunities.”

A more “systematic approach” would be taken to identify and facilitate defence export opportunities from early stage innovation through to capability acquisition, in-service management, and disposal. 

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