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UK pushes for reciprocal trade with Australia

bae systems australia ship

A new platform has been launched for Australian companies looking to join the supply chain and pursue defence export opportunities in the UK.

A new platform has been launched for Australian companies looking to join the supply chain and pursue defence export opportunities in the UK.

Defence Connect spoke with head of the Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) Steve Phipson at the Pacific 2017 International Maritime Exposition, who said the UK industry is looking to better communicate with Australian industry to establish reciprocal trade with a new supplier registration website.

"Very often we hear this, I've had this challenge from the Australian ministers before now about, well, "how do we get reciprocal trade going?" and it is quite straight forward to do," Phipson said.


"I think a lot of it is about communicating the process to make sure that we are able to point Australian companies in the right direction to sign up for this. So there's that one, which is good.

"The second one, which is good, is teaming up with the UK prime suppliers and using Australia as parts of their supply chain, which is something else that we are working on very hard, particularly as most of our larger companies have substantial assets here in Australia. And making sure that Australian companies are able to become part of the supply chain back to the UK is something that we're pushing for quite heavily.

"The Ministry of Defence (MoD) procurement process is probably the most open and transparent in the world in terms of what we are able to contract with. We now are actively encouraging particularly Australian supply chain to sign up on the website."

The UK's BAE Systems is currently tendering for the $35 billion SEA 5000 project against Italy's Fincantieri and Navantia of Spain. 

The company has said more than 30 global companies supplying critical major parts for the Type 26 Global Combat Ship being manufactured in the UK will transfer bespoke technologies and capability to Australia should the BAE Systems bid be successful.

At the cutting of steel for the BAE Systems designed UK Royal Navy's Type 26 frigate, Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon told reporters there is ample opportunity for Australian companies to break into the supply chain and capitalise on export opportunities of the advanced ship.

"That is one of the things we learn, that these supply chains are increasingly interconnected," Sir Michael said.

"Of course there should be opportunities for Australian companies to bid into our supply chain just as our companies want to get into the Australian supply chain.

"The closer our royal navies work together, the more likely it is that we will see Australian and British equipment together side-by-side."

These export plans fall into line with Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne's ambitions for a strong defence-based export industry, ambitions that have been backed by politicians across both major parties.

Companies looking to register with UK's MoD can sign up here.