Australia aims to become 'top 10' defence exporter

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in front of an Australian-made Bushmaster protected mobility vehicle while visiting the Japan Ground Self Defense Forces' Na

"It is an ambitious, positive plan to boost Australian industry, increase investment, and create more jobs for Australian businesses".

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his nation is aiming to break into the Top 10 of global defense exporters and is creating a A$3.8 billion ($3.1 billion) fund to help boost shipments.

Australia now is ranked 20th in arms exports with a 0.3 percent share of the global market, according to a widely-cited 2017 report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Turnbull's government has said it will undertake the "most comprehensive regeneration of our Navy since the Second World War".

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Chris Jenkins, CEO of Thales Australia, which makes the Bushmaster, attended Mr Turnbull's press conference on Monday and thanked the prime minister for his "unprecedented support".

The government will seek to use the exports to cement relationships with key countries in volatile regions like the Middle East. Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne has previously nominated Australia's relationship with the United Arab Emirates as one that could benefit from deeper, export-led economic ties.

"We should not be getting into the game of marketing weapons which kill, maim, and bring great sorrow and destruction to communities around the world", Marc Purcell, chief executive of Australian Council for International Development, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Australia, a key US ally, is seeking to boost exports after announcing two years ago it would increase defense spending by more than 81 percent to A$56.7 billion by 2026.

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The government will also establish separate agencies to better co-ordinate and promote industry exports.

He said defence industry was "important" but accused the Turnbull Government for neglecting other kinds of advanced manufacturing in the automotive and renewable energy industries.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the announcement showed Mr Turnbull wanted Australia to become a "massive exporter of death", criticising Australia's history of selling defence products to Saudi Arabia.

The government will also spend $20 million a year to support the new strategy.

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

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