FOREWORD - DEFENCE MANAGEMENT JOURNAL, Issue 40
Lord Digby Jones
The UK has a world class defence manufacturing sector, generating annual exports worth around £5bn and creating an estimated 50,000 jobs. Government has a vital supporting role to play and we are committed to working with the defence sector to see this success continue.
Following the Prime Minister's announcement last July, support for defence exports will, in April, become the responsibility of UKTI Defence and Security Group, a new business group of UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), the Government's international business development organisation.
In bringing support for defence exports under the umbrella of UKTI, with its wider trade development expertise, we have a real opportunity to build on the great success of the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) to the benefit of the UK defence sector and the country as a whole, economically and in support of defence objectives.
In my role as Minister for Trade and Investment and Chair of UKTI, I travel regularly around the UK and overseas, banging the drum for UK companies and selling the UK as the place to do business. It makes sense for me to do this for defence companies too – in addition to the continuing role Defence Ministers will have in promoting UK defence exports in their discussions with overseas governments. There are clear benefits in combining efforts across government to provide a more coherent approach in this growing sector.
The ability to offer a complete package of support for customer governments, who often seek specialist assistance and defence expertise, is an opportunity for the sector to develop a compelling marketing proposition that positions the UK uniquely in the world. We will draw on the City's position as the world's leading financial centre with expertise in public private partnerships and private finance packages. The ability to offer the training, validation of equipment and services, and the know-how of our Armed Forces will be an essential part of the sales mixture.
The new UKTI Defence and Security Group will retain close links to the Ministry of Defence, with a staff who understand the defence and security business and are committed to its success. It will have a global reach combining the wider knowledge and resources of the UKTI network, promoting a UK brand to help the industry compete on a global stage.
The new group will enable us to refresh support for defence exports in a way that also emphasises our commitment to the highest business standards, demonstrably supporting good governance through an industry code and setting out common standards of the best business practices.
The new UKTI Defence and Security Group provides a tremendous opportunity to enhance the way government supports this important sector and I am looking forward to working together with them in the months and years ahead. The Government recognises just how vitally important our defence manufacturing sector is to research and development, using knowledge to benefit all value added sectors, and ensuring that our nation's prosperity and security remain intimately entwined.