This week in ADS’s blog series on the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy (DSIS) we will look at the international role that the UK’s defence and security industries play to advance the UK’s strategic objectives, and in turn, how the Government can support our sectors overseas. Our industries export world-leading technologies critical to the security of our allies and exports are also strategically important to sustaining the UK’s industrial capability. The Government has a unique role to play in opening difficult-to-access international opportunities, so the two sides must work together to support UK defence and security exports.

Entering new defence and security markets can be challenging because of the sensitivities involved. For that reason, it can make a real difference if companies are associated with the UK’s globally respected military and security agencies. This requires the Government to leverage its international relationships accordingly. The DSIS must therefore set out a newly energised approach to Government-to-Government (G2G) engagement that includes a strengthened industrial dimension and a new willingness to sign G2G agreements as required by the target market.

The UK must adopt a whole of Government approach that brings together relevant departments to work in concert to showcase the full breadth of UK capability. While the primary responsibility for export promotion sits with the Department for International Trade’s Defence and Security Organisation (DIT DSO), other departments such as the Home Office, Ministry of Defence and Department for International Development all have a role to play in identifying export potential. The DSIS must clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each department that contributes to the UK’s export agenda.

One example where Government and industry are already working together effectively to deliver capabilities across the world is at the UK Defence Solutions Centre (UKDSC). Using a ‘Team UK’ approach, the UKDSC brings together the two sides along with academia to share information on priority markets and potential national campaign opportunities in a secure environment. The DSIS must ensure that the UKDSC is fully funded on an ongoing basis and consider how to ‘export’ a similar model of partnership to the UK’s security sector in collaboration with DIT DSO. Sitting above structures such as the UKDSC, the Defence Growth Partnership (DGP) and the Security and Resilience Growth Partnership (SRGP) offer strategic channels for industry-Government collaboration and they must also receive full support from the Ministry of Defence and the Home Office respectively to deliver on the UK’s export agenda.

On a practical level there are two areas in which the DSIS could deliver meaningful support to UK industry. Firstly, our member companies would welcome it if there was a greater coordination of effort to deliver specialist advice on exporting from the UK’s diplomatic posts. Secondly, it is vitally important that the UK continues to operate one of the world’s most rigorous export licensing regimes in the world. In support of this ADS would welcome a review of the resourcing devoted to the processing and approval of export applications.

If the DSIS sets out an ambitious vision for deeper collaboration and Government support in the export market then the UK’s defence and security sectors will be well placed to deliver the Government’s vision for a Global Britain.

Please check back next week for ADS’s next, and final, update. To read the other blogs please see below: