When you gut your industrial base certain things flow in due course. Via the ABC:
A push to make Australia a “top 10” weapons exporter appears to be faltering, with analysis suggesting the country has instead become one of the world’s largest arms importers, second only to Saudi Arabia.
Figures compiled by the renowned Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) show Australia last year fell from the world’s 18th largest military exporter to now be ranked 25th.
At the same time Australia jumped from being the fourth-highest weapons importer in 2017, to the world’s second biggest military purchaser in 2018.
In 2018, payments for expensive new aircraft such as Joint Strike Fighters as well as French work on the Future Submarine project are believed to have helped push Australia close to the top of global defence import rankings.
Last year the Turnbull government launched a bold plan to make Australia one of the world’s top 10 exporters, with a new loan scheme for defence companies that wanted to sell their products overseas.
“We expect that in the next nine years because of the investments of this government we’ll move to being in the top 10 defence exporters in the world, and so we should be,” former defence industry minister Christopher Pyne predicted when launching the strategy.
One of the country’s leading defence analysts, Andrew Davies, says he is not surprised Australia is struggling to overtake other nations.
“Getting up that league table is actually really hard, and I don’t think there’s any realistic prospect of climbing into the top 10,” he said.
“Not moving up the table doesn’t mean that the defence sector isn’t expanding, because everybody’s trying to sell more, so it’s entirely consistent that Australia could be exporting more and not moving up the table.”
Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price, who is this week flying to the United States to promote the work of Australian military companies, has questioned SIPRI’s figures and insists the Coalition’s export goals remain on track.
“The Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute system for measuring defence exports does not capture a large amount of Australian industry defence exports, particularly our niche capabilities in sustainment and upgrade services,” Minister Price told the ABC in a statement.
“Becoming a top-10 global defence exporter is an ambitious target.
“A strong, exporting industrial base generates economic growth and creates jobs, which is why we’re striving to be in the world’s best.”
Dr Davies agrees there are some legitimate doubts about the figures but believes they can be relied upon to observe global trends in the weapons trade.
“I think everyone who uses those figures realises that there’s some issues with the methodology but they use the same technique every year, so I think in trend terms it’s fair to draw inferences from it,” he said.
The world’s top weapons importers
Rank 2018 Rank 2017 1 1 Saudi Arabia 2 4 Australia 3 6 China 4 2 India 5 3 Egypt 6 10 Algeria 7 8 South Korea 8 7 UAE 9 16 Qatar 10 14 Pakistan 11 21 Japan 12 23 Turkey 13 18 United States 14 9 Iraq 15 28 Thailand 16 13 Vietnam 17 25 Norway 18 11 UK 19 22 Singapore 20 17 Israel 21 20 Morocco 22 5 Indonesia 23 29 Azerbaijan 24 12 Oman 25 15 Italy
The world’s top weapons exporters
Rank 2018 Rank 2017 1 1 United States 2 2 Russia 3 3 France 4 4 Germany 5 9 Spain 6 11 South Korea 7 7 China 8 6 UK 9 5 Israel 10 10 Italy 11 8 Netherlands 12 13 Turkey 13 14 Switzerland 14 12 Ukraine 15 16 South Africa 16 21 Sweden 17 17 UAE 18 28 Brazil 19 23 Canada 20 24 Finland 21 15 Norway 22 19 Czech Rep. 23 27 Belarus 24 26 India 25 18 Australia
There isn’t much point being defense self-sufficient anyway when you only have 18 days of petrol before being conquered.
He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.
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