Defence industry bodies and primes have weighed in on the government’s newly unveiled Defence Export Strategy.
The strategy includes various initiatives, including:
- A new Australian Defence Export Office. Defence said the office will work hand-in-hand with Austrade and the Centre for Defence Industry Capability to co-ordinate whole-of-government efforts and will provide a focal point for defence exports;
- A new Australian Defence Export Advocate to provide high-level advocacy for defence exports and work across industry and government to ensure that efforts are co-ordinated;
- A $3.8 billion Defence Export Facility administered by Efic, Australia’s export credit agency. The initiative aims to help Australian companies get the finance they need to underpin the sales of their equipment overseas and provide Australian defence industry an opportunity to identify and pursue new export opportunities when there is a market gap for defence finance; and
- $20 million per year to implement the Defence Export Strategy and support defence industry exports, including $6.35 million to develop and implement strategic multi-year export campaigns, $3.2 million to enhance and expand the Global Supply Chain program, and an additional $4.1 million for grants to help build the capability of small and medium enterprises to compete internationally.
Defence Teaming Centre chief executive Margot Foster welcomed the strategy, noting the commitment to offer funding to small Australian businesses will help deliver a sovereign industry.
"It is pleasing to see that the strategy provides funding and support for small businesses to expand into global markets. While the primes play a critical role in supplying defence capability, it will be through the growth and development of our SMEs that Australia becomes a truly sovereign shipbuilding nation capable of exporting," Forster said.
Commercial and Defence shipbuilder Austal said the new strategy, which has introduced a Defence Export Facility to be administered by Australia's export credit agency Efic, is welcome recognition that the Australian defence industry can only survive through exports.
"The Australian government and Austal have a long history of working together on export deals and Efic has assisted us on a number of our international sales," Austal CEO David Singleton said.
"With this latest announcement, the government has shown it recognises the Australian defence industry cannot rely on domestic orders alone; to grow we must be competitive in the international market."
Managing director of systems integrator Raytheon Australia added that the strategy "further demonstrates the government’s priority to use defence industry as a key driver of innovation and jobs" and recognises the up and down nature of the sector.
"I commend the government’s motivation to find new ways to see defence industry through the peaks and troughs of local demand. By encouraging new exports markets the industry will be strengthened and made more competitive," said Ward.
SEA 5000 contender Fincantieri also weighted in, adding the government's strategy highlighted key aspects of its bid for the $35 billion Future Frigates project.
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"Fincantieri’s proposal to build nine FREMM-A Frigates in Adelaide maximises the use of Australian industry and introduces these companies to our expansive shipbuilding network of 20 shipyards, 80,000 subcontractors, spread across four continents," the company said in a statement.
"Already, Australian industry has found success with Fincantieri. We are exporting mechanical equipment and cruise ship blocks made with Australian steel from Perth and Adelaide and we’re confident Australia offers significant defence export opportunities. To bring more Australian companies to export and markets we propose a comprehensive program of technology transfer into Australian industry and to market this industry as Australians commit to listing our business in Australia on the Australian Stock Exchange."