As previously reported on Defence Connect, the release of the government's much-anticipated Defence Export Strategy is due at the end of this year, and now Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne has outlined what work remains before the imminent release.
Speaking at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Minister Pyne appealed to the industry, from primes to small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) to assist the government in its endeavour to deliver a clear strategy.
"While we have some great programs, we need to have a clear strategy and the ability to plan government, defence and industry efforts based on clear prioritisation," said the minister.
"Our approach also has to take account of different markets, likelihood of success and the different industry needs of our small-to-medium enterprises and primes.
"The fundamental issue we seek your assistance in determining is this: what can defence support do to offer a unique benefit and expansion of an export-focused Australian defence industry."
And while the government looks to gather this assistance from the industry, Pyne revealed the strategy "will plan, guide and measure defence export outcomes that will support our foreign and trade polices and defence industry, defence capability and national security objectives."
"How we identify Australian industry’s export strengths and prioritise export opportunities is a key area of interest we are constantly working to refine," said Minister Pyne.
Minister Pyne conceded that, at present, not all areas of Australia's defence industry are export-ready but stressed that the export strategy will also go a long way in understanding present capabilities and future potential.
"It’s fair to say that not all parts of Australia’s defence industry are export-ready and not all countries wish to buy what our defence industry has to sell," Minister Pyne explained.
"That’s why it’s so important to understand where Australian capability, future potential and global demand align, considering both past export successes and current and newly-emerging export opportunities.
"Exporting can be both a daunting and demanding undertaking for any business, and the nature of the defence industry can introduce further levels of complexity.
"Businesses may face challenges such as identifying export opportunities, obtaining export market access and complying with export regulations.
"That’s why determining the optimal ways government, defence and industry can work together to provide effective support to defence industry exports is so important."
But, the government and industry is confident the list of Australian success stories will only continue to grow with the release of the focused and prioritised strategy.
"We’ve got some great success stories," began Minister Pyne.
"CEA has exported more than 260 million dollars of radar and other products in the past five years; products that are in demand by the United States as they beat anything they produce – an enormous achievement.
"The Australian designed Nulka decoy system that protects ships from missiles not so long ago saved the USS Mason from an attack by Houthi rebels off the coast of Yemen.
"Austal is exporting both Australian manufactured vessels and Australian designs and engineering innovations around the world.
"The Joint Strike Fighter is another great example of our export success... Companies like Marand... make tail pieces and specialised engine trailers for the Joint Strike Fighter. They recently announced that, over the next decade their order book from the project will be worth more than $1 billion. That’s not just for Australia’s Joint Strike Fighters – that’s exporting vital components made here in Australia overseas, to take their place on perhaps the most advanced combat aircraft the world has ever seen, that will be operated by the USA, the United Kingdom, Japan, Israel and many other countries.
"Now, our challenge is to make these more than just showcase examples of Australian innovation and capability.
"They need to become the new normal."
The Defence Export Strategy is another key component of the 2016 Defence White Paper and will support existing initiatives such as the Centre for Defence Industry Capability and the Defence Innovation Hub.