Australia eyes spot among arms exporters

Australia eyes spot among arms exporters

CANBERRA - The Associated Press
Australia eyes spot among arms exporters

The Australian government announced on Jan. 29 a new strategy to boost Australia into the ranks of the top 10 defense industry exporting countries within a decade.

The government will create a 3.8 billion Australian dollar ($3.1 billion) fund to lend to exporters that banks are reluctant to finance, Defense Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said.

Australia is around the 20th largest defense exporter with most of its exports including the Bushmaster armored vehicle and the Nulka missile decoy sold to the United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.

The aim of boosting Australia into the top 10 defense exporters was “very realistic,” Pyne said.

“Australia has a very sophisticated defense industry, but we’ve never had a government until this one that’s been determined to drive that into exports in order to grow jobs and the economy,” Pyne told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said his government was not concerned that exported arms could be turned against Australia.

“This isn’t about providing weapons or arms to rogue regimes or anything like that,” Ciobo told Nine Network television.

“We’ve got strict controls and those controls make sure we only supply defense assets in the future to like-minded countries that have a strong human rights record and have protections in place.”