Australian ECA underwriting arms exports is 'baffling', expert says

(Guardian, Sydney, 30 January 2018) The financial aspects of the Turnbull government’s plan to turn Australia into an arms exporting powerhouse are baffling, a leading defence expert says, but the decision to promote defence products overseas is welcome. Andrew Davies, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s director of defence strategy, said the Coalition’s plan to use a $3.8bn fund administered by Australia’s export credit agency to underwrite an expansion of arms exports made little economic sense because manufacturers had no trouble securing funding from private sources. Davies said it was highly unlikely Australia could ever join the ranks of the top 10 arms exporters because the things it was good at producing – component parts for foreign assembly lines; niche sales of intellectual property, and services (training, consultancy, and acquisition)... And it’s unlikely that Australia will be able to produce warships and submarines at less cost than well established shipyards overseas. Peter Whish-Wilson, the Greens defence spokesman, said the plan was designed to shore up a handful of defence industry-centric seats “at the cost of Australia’s soul”.