Australia sees surge in defence exports permits

14 January 2020

Major Australian defence exports in recent years have featured the Bushmaster 4×4 protected mobility vehicle produced by Thales Australia. Source: Thales Australia

The value of permits issued to Australian defence exporters reached a record of nearly AUD5 billion (USD3.5 billion) in fiscal year (FY) 2018/19, figures published by Australia’s Defence Export Controls (DEC) – a branch under the Department of Defence (DoD) in Canberra – show.

The recently published DEC statistics show that approved defence export permits during FY 2018/19 was far more than in previous years, representing a mandated requirement – from 1 January 2018 – for exporters to provide the expected value of their sales in export permit documentation. Before that date, the declaration of export values was optional.

According to the statistics, the value of approved defence export permits in FY 2018/19 was AUD4.91 billion. The values of approved permits in fiscal years 2016/17 and 2017/18 were AUD1.12 billion and AUD1.57 billion respectively. The DEC said that in FY 2018/19 a total of 93% of permits included a declared value, while 72% and 83% of permits included declared values in FY 2016/17 and FY 2017/18 respectively.

In terms of the geographical location of end-users, the DEC statistics show that in FY 2018/19 the majority of approved permits – 22% – were linked to exports to North America. End-user requirements within Australia for “returns and repairs” on foreign systems accounted for 20%, as did permits for Asia. The majority of the remainder were for end-users in Europe (18%) and New Zealand (17%).

Permits approved for fiscal years 2016/17 and 2017/18 show a similar trend for geographical locations.

In total, the DEC said that it received 3,973 defence export applications in FY 2018/19, a 4% increase over the 3,826 applications received the previous year. A total of 89% of defence export applications received in 2018/19 were deemed by the DEC as “non-sensitive”, while the remainder were regarded as “sensitive or complex”.

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