UK urges defense contractors to look overseas


From Keith Weir, Reuters:  Britain’s arms manufacturers must look to tailor products for overseas markets to protect jobs and profits at a time of spending cuts at home, Defence Secretary Liam Fox said on Tuesday.

"For too long export potential has been ignored when initiating projects for the UK’s own use: that needs to change," Fox said in a speech at a major arms fair in London.

"The best way to sustain UK defence and security jobs in the long term is to widen the customer base through enhanced defence exports. . . ."

Britain’s defence industry employs almost 110,000 people and had a turnover of more than 22 billion pounds ($34.8 billion) last year, according to figures from trade group ADS, with exports contributing 9.5 billion — some 43 percent of turnover. . . .

The British government plans to reduce defence spending by 8 percent by 2015, while the United States is cutting at least $350 billion from previous project spending.

Saudi Arabia has traditionally been Britain’s largest defence export market, but sales to India are seen expanding rapidly.  (photo: Reuters)

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