Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his nation is aiming to break into the Top 10 of global defense exporters and is creating a A$3.8 billion ($3.1 billion) fund to help boost shipments.
“A strong, exporting defense industry in Australia will provide greater certainty of investment,” Turnbull said in a statement. “It is an ambitious, positive plan to boost Australian industry, increase investment, and create more jobs for Australian businesses.”
Australia currently exports A$1.5-2.5 billion worth of defense equipment a year. The nation was the 20th biggest exporter from 2012 to 2016, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. More than half that trade goes to the U.S., followed by 21 percent to Indonesia and 10 percent to Oman.
The plan will see the nation’s export credit agency facilitate loans to Australian companies seeking to sell their equipment overseas, as well as the founding of a defense export office, Turnbull said.
Australia, a key U.S. ally, is seeking to boost exports after announcing two years ago it would increase defense spending by more than 81 percent to A$56.7 billion by 2026.
Turnbull’s government has said it will undertake the “most comprehensive regeneration of our Navy since the Second World War.” It has plans to construct 12 offshore patrol vessels, up to 21 smaller patrol boats, and the nine warships in its Future Frigates project.
Australia has awarded a A$50 billion contract to build 12 submarines to France’s DCNS group, to be constructed in Australia.
“We have had a very high level of inter-operability with our closest defense ally the United States for some time and this defense export strategy will be building on our commitment to a much stronger defense capability in Australia,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in a Sky News interview on Monday. “This is all about ensuring that Australia is a strong and capable defense partner in our region and with our allies.”