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British minister reinforces defence export market

15th March 2012 - 15:49 by Beth Stevenson in London

British minister reinforces defence export market

UK Minister for defence equipment, support and technology Peter Luff has emphasised the importance of the defence sector to the British economy thanks to its position as the world’s second largest exporter of defence products.

Speaking at the NDI Opportunities Conference in Bristol on 14 March, the minister described how the UK makes £6 billion per year in export defence sales.

‘Despite recent reports, defence is big business in the UK and will remain so. The industry is the second largest exporter in the world, with £6 billion sales per year,’ Luff said in a statement.

‘We are still finalising the materials programme but we will be looking at a spend of around £150 billion in the next decade on procurement for the UK defence sector.’

He also described small-medium enterprises (SMEs) as ‘the lifeblood of any industry, but this is especially true in defence’.

‘SMEs are making a vital contribution in getting battle-ready technology to the front line. They have the agility to exploit new technologies, the niche capabilities to develop it and of course are cost effective. They have a vital role to play in ensuring that our forces have the best support, at the right price for the British taxpayer.’

He also said that the UK must spend money on science and technology, and outlined how the government has set a baseline of 1.2% of the defence budget to this, amounting to some £400 million per annum.

However, he added: ‘I’m hoping it will be possible to increase this as part of the equipment programme.’

Commenting on the UK -France Defence and Security Cooperation Treaty Luff said: ‘Together, France and the UK represent half of the total European spend on Defence and by working together we are able to maximise our purchasing power, operational capabilities and sustain a strong industrial presence that will underpin both our and France’s security.

‘The treaty will open up greater opportunities for SMEs on both sides of the channel.’
Dave Townsley, executive director of NDI said: ‘The defence sector faces drastic budgetary challenges. But there are major emerging markets to capitalise on. India, China and Brazil are all forecasting significant spend, particularly on aerospace. UK businesses need to be in the strongest possible situation to take advantage.’

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