UK security and defence sector Trade Association ADS has published an in-depth report examining the valuable role defence and security exports play when it comes to delivering national security and prosperity.
The leading-edge technology, training and support supplied by the UK’s defence and security industries helps our international partners to better protect themselves. Increasing exports also helps to sustain important capabilities essential for our own national security.
Strengthening the UK’s export control regime is a key part of the prosperity agenda. Already recognised as the most robust and transparent export licensing regime in the world, the new ADS report – entitled Security and Prosperity: Strengthening UK Defence and Security Exports – proposes new measures designed to enhance its effectiveness.
Increasing exports enables industry to invest in developing new technologies and innovation, providing the UK’s Armed Forces and security agencies with access to leading-edge technology, training and support.
Positive outcomes of a more co-ordinated approach to exports identified in the report include:
*Embedding strategic political support: establishing a clear and enduring framework for doing business with the UK
*Boosting practical support through several measures including lowering the cost and improving the co-ordination of trade missions and raising awareness of export support schemes
*Strengthening the export control regime by increasing scrutiny through open licensing and enhancing licensing advisory functions
Paul Everitt, CEO at the ADS Group, commented: “The report provides Government and industry with a practical framework for increasing defence and security exports. A more co-ordinated approach to supporting exports will contribute to our national security, supporting prosperity and high value jobs. The recommendations outlined in this report support the valuable work being done by the Defence Growth Partnership as well as the Security and Resilience Growth Partnership.”
Everitt continued: “International budgets are under pressure and competition is fierce. UK industry needs to be able to win its share of global market opportunities. This report sets out how companies of all sizes can gain from opportunities to export, all of which is underpinned by the world’s most robust and transparent licencing regime.”
Leveraging existing networks and using market insight
Government support for defence and security exports provides a crucial level of endorsement. Within the export market, as the end customer is often another Government it’s very much the case that leveraging existing networks and using market insight more intelligently is crucial. It means industry in the UK can tailor solutions and so compete more effectively against other international suppliers.
For SMEs, a more joined-up approach to identifying future market opportunities would be useful as it’s often the case that smaller companies lack the resource necessary to commission international research or establish in-market contacts.
Boosting exports will logically result in a corresponding increase in demand for export licences. A number of rigorous checks and balances currently exist to ensure that UK export activity contributes to the Government’s mutually reinforcing objectives of safeguarding national security, delivering economic prosperity and promoting British values abroad.
Preserving confidence in the regime while making changes so that it can accommodate a growth in demand for licences more efficiently is a leading priority. To this end, the ADS document sets out several practical ways to bring about this efficiency:
*Increasing scrutiny though open licensing. Open licences are subject to strict conditions and regular compliance audits. With just 148 Standard Individual Export Licences (SIEL) refused out of a cohort numbering 13,500-plus applications in 2013, shifting more SIELs to the open category would allow greater scrutiny of more complex and contentious SIEL applications
*Enhancing export licensing advisory functions so that companies understand ahead of time the extent to which their goods and services are subject to export control policy. This would also reduce the number of unnecessary applications requiring attention
*Reducing requests for further information by providing an early guidance service owned and operated by the Government. This will mean fewer delays to delivery times, something which can undermine UK competitiveness, create a backlog and run the risk of reputational damage. Currently, more risk-averse exporters are choosing to forgo pursuing potential opportunities over concerns that a licence will be rejected.
ADS has stated: “The UK’s Armed Forces and security services enjoy an outstanding reputation on the international stage. We are the largest exporter of defence equipment and services in Europe and second globally only to the United States. Our industrial base is in a position to bolster national security at a time when the threat landscape is becoming increasingly volatile.”
The Trade Association added: “International competition within the defence and security markets is rising and the UK risks losing its valuable lead. This will naturally impact the vital economic contribution made by the defence and security sectors. Going forward, the objective should be to take the UK’s world-leading products and services that meet the needs of export customers and deliver them with a UK seal of approval through a simple and transparent export system.”