Defence and security export sales in 2019

Written by Nathan Mathiot, Security Policy Advisor, and Andy Johnston, Defence Policy Advisor – ADS

UK Defence & Security Exports (UKDSE) released the official figures this week for defence and security export sales in 2019. While it must be recognised that these statistics cover a period before the pandemic, they demonstrate that the UK’s defence and security sectors remain robust despite global challenges. In 2019 £11bn of defence export orders were won by UK companies and £7.2bn of security export sales took place. Importantly, the UK remains the world’s second largest defence exporter (over a 10-year period) and it is now the world’s third largest security exporter, having moved up from 4th in 2018.

These statistics demonstrate that the UK’s defence and security industries are securing exports worth billions of pounds to the UK economy that sustain tens of thousands of high-value jobs. Our sectors have a proven track record of investing in local economies across every region of the UK and the UK’s defence and security industries anchor communities through their supply chains and the provision of 132k direct jobs in defence and 114k direct jobs in security.

As the UK works to recover from the pandemic, the UK’s defence and security sectors are well placed to continue to contribute to the economic recovery. Notably, cyber security export sales grew by 90% on 2018 (from £2.1bn in 2018 to £3.96bn in 2019), which demonstrates that demand continues to grow for the UK’s world-leading capabilities in this important market. In the defence market core business remained strong, especially in aerospace (for example, the UK’s contribution to the international F-35 programme), despite no major platform orders in 2019.

The Middle East remains the largest market for UK defence exports, accounting for 58% by value of all UK defence orders won in 2019. However, the European market has risen in importance, being responsible for 20% of total defence exports (up from 9% in 2018). Europe also continues to be the largest exports market for the UK’s security industry, racking up £2.59bn in sales in 2019. Through exporting our industries deliver UK defence and security capabilities overseas to keep the UK’s partners safe and strengthen trade ties. For that reason, UK defence and security exports should be considered a core component of the agenda for a Global Britain.

For ADS’s official statement on the latest export statistics please visit here.