This blog was written by Brinley Salzmann, Director – Overseas & Exports at ADS Group.

On Tuesday 6th October, ADS hosted a webinar on: “How ‘Team UK’ can support Defence Exports in the Post-COVID World” as part of an initiative to seek to engage more closely with our SME Member companies, and to ensure that our export-related activities not only serve an overall strategic, national purpose in support of “Team UK”, but also met the more focused needs of its SME Member companies. Having heard from speakers from a range of Government departments, as well as from representatives from the Defence Growth Partnership and Defence Solutions Centre, in addition to speakers from ADS, itself, the attendees had the opportunity to pose questions to our industry and Government colleagues. Much of the discussion was focussed on how the strategic plans of the DGP and UKDSC (including the “Team UK” initiative) could become relevant to the SME community and to the normal day-to-day commercial interests of smaller companies.

This event was also part of the re-launch of ADS’ Defence Export Strategy Group (DESG), which had been created back in 2017 to support the whole “Team UK” initiative and facilitate the active involvement of the wider UK Defence Industry community in the deliberations and strategic plans arising from “Team UK”. It is hoped that this can be used by the SME community as a springboard to more active involvement in making practical use of “Team UK” to further their commercial interests.

A number of the questions posed were related to how the UK could potentially benefit from putting together a coordinated national strategy for dealing with a more complex and contested export market. Over the coming years, as countries seek to re-build their national economies after COVID 19, UK businesses are likely to experience greater demand and more rigid requirements for engaging with mechanisms such as offsets and industrial participation. Many nations are now more likely to award contracts to offshore contractors and expect to yield some domestic benefits to their national economies in the process. Historically, the UK has not engaged with offsets, however, having left the EU the UK will have more freedom to discuss strategies to employ or meet the challenge of this mechanism. It is important that the UK develops a national strategic approach to meet these challenges and continue to be competitive in international markets. Given UK industry’s experience with international markets this should be done in deep consultation with ADS members.