• Credit: Defence
    Credit: Defence

Austrade has multiple ways that it can support Australian defence industry to achieve export success according to Austrade’s head of Defence, Advanced Manufacturing and Space Anthony Weymouth. These efforts are concentrated in a few key initiatives of which, The Department of Defences’ Team Defence Australia (TDA) is the headline.

TDA was stood-up in 2018 when the government articulated its intent for Australia to become a major defence exporter with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Austrade and Defence. Since then, Weymouth said, TDA and Austrade have supported around 350 Australian companies. He said that partnership between Defence and Austrade has helped secure more than $7.7 billion in defence and dual-use export sales since 2018, though he noted that many of these were not strictly to defence customers.

“It’s fair to say that obviously not all of those [sales] are pure defence exports and a lot of [them] would be dual use export[s], but that’s OK because that’s what the ambition is,” he said. The objective, Weymouth explained, is not to secure defence exports for the sake of securing defence export sales, but rather support the diversification and strengthening of Australian industry. “[Our] ambition is to help industry expand their customer base, and [it sometimes] means selling a product or service into a market that may not be [a] Defence customer,” he said.

While TDA is perhaps the most visible initiative for promoting Defence exports, it’s not the only one. Locally engaged defence directors in key overseas markets, such as the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Singapore, and Japan also play a key role both overseas, and domestically in Australia.

In their home markets, Weymouth explained, defence directors make introductions, liaise with officials, and provide information about the market back to interested Australian companies. They also regularly lead delegations to Australian trade shows and industry events, such as the Avalon Airshow, Land Forces, and Indo Pacific expositions he said.

These experts, Weymouth said, have been incredibly valuable to Australia by virtue of the access and knowledge they provide about foreign markets. They aim to help Australian companies make better informed decisions about what opportunities to pursue around the world.

“It's very common for an Australian company to come to us and say they want to export their product to the UK. After a long conversation with [them] and after we've been engaged with our defence director in the UK, [we might] suggest [to] them that you know what, the [UK] may not be the right market for you. Maybe [Singapore]'s better for them?”

Another role played by Austrade is seeking out specific opportunities overseas. These entail Austrade helping companies respond to “very specific demand signals” from organisations like the US Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).

The DIU, Weymouth said, is currently touring Australia and has visited sites and companies in Sydney, Canberra and Adelaide. In the past, he said, “quite a few” Australian companies have secured contracts with the DIU. These include Hypersonix which was selected by the DIU to provide hypersonic vehicles as part of the High-Cadence Airborne Testing Capabilities (HyCAT1) program in March 2023. Weymouth said that his team is “hopeful” that this trip will have a similar impact.

Aside from TDA, defence directors, and efforts with organisations like the DIU, Weymouth said, Defence and Austrade are able to respond quickly to emerging opportunities in specific markets. Last year, for example, there were defence missions to Japan and the Republic of Korea in response to “specific opportunities” present in those markets. 

Weymouth also noted that it’s essential for industry to be aware of their Defence Export Control (DEC) obligations and recommended companies engage with DEC early.

“[Industry] should just know that the Australian Government is committed to helping grow defence exports. Austrade and the Department of Defence particularly through Team Defence Australia are here to help,” he said.

comments powered by Disqus