Integrated Review #3: The UK as an Exporting Powerhouse

The UK’s Strategic Defence and Security Reviews have traditionally considered issues and capabilities affecting national security primarily, if not exclusively. However, the Government’s Integrated Review takes a wider approach, recognising that the UK’s soft power, for example international aid and diplomacy, is also an integral part of keeping the UK safe. In line with this holistic approach, ADS members believe that the Integrated Review should recognise the contribution that UK defence and security exports make to UK prosperity and in supporting the UK’s allies and deterring its adversaries.

As ADS has highlighted throughout this blog series, there is a crucial link between the prosperity and the security of our country. A robust, responsive and healthy domestic industrial base strengthens the UK’s inherent resilience towards both natural hazards and malicious threats. By supporting the UK’s defence and security industries in their drive to access new markets and secure export opportunities, the Government can both contribute to the UK’s economic recovery and reinforce our national resilience.

On top of the domestic benefits, UK defence and security exports should be considered a core component of a Global Britain. Through the provision of advanced defence and security capabilities overseas our industries help to keep the UK’s partners safe, strengthen trade ties and act as a deterrent to competitors. However, entering new markets in this area can be challenging, as trust is understandably paramount when it comes to national security. For that reason, ADS believes that the Integrated Review should support a strengthened industrial dimension within the UK’s Government-to-Government (G2G) engagements.

The Government’s support for UK defence and security exports can take many forms. From providing delivery guarantees to supplying expert advice, to signing memorandums of understanding with key partners, the Government can help to facilitate export opportunities for industry and deliver strategic coherence with the UK’s allies. A coordinated industry-Government approach towards key markets would increase the prospects of UK defence and security companies successfully winning business overseas, and in turn boosting the UK’s prosperity and national security.

Closer international partnerships could also help UK industry to build more assured supply chains internationally. The security of supply for UK capabilities have grown in importance as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global supply chains. The Integrated Review should therefore promote a coordinated approach to the UK’s closest allies that takes in account national security, resilience, interoperability, and prosperity considerations at the same time.

Please do check back next week for our next update. To read the other blogs in this series please see below: