Australian defense firms have secured contracts to supply military equipment to Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest importer of arms.
The Australian Department of Defense (DoD) has not named the firms or the equipment, citing commercial-in-confidence rules.
DoD has approved four military exports to Saudi Arabia in the past year and the Australian government has led the push for more.
The news comes after Minister for Defense Industry Christopher Pyne unveiled the government’s new defense export strategy.
The new strategy is aiming to reverse Australia’s globally ranked import and export numbers, which currently sit at 5th and 20th respectively.
Minister Pyne visited Riyadh in December to promote Australian defense industry and products to senior government figures, including Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah al-Saud, the Head of the National Guard. A delegation of Australian defense industry representatives also visited Saudi Arabia at the same time.
A spokesperson for Minister Pyne said the Australian government is determined to expand Australian defense industry exports internationally, including to Saudi Arabia. The spokesperson said by expanding the Australian defense industry, Australia will create more high-tech manufacturing jobs and opportunities for Australian businesses.
The spokesperson also said the Minister received a very positive reception, as did the business representatives who visited, and that work is now underway to build on this with exploration of possible opportunities not just in defense industry, but in vocational education, training and the mining sector.
A spokesperson for Minister Pyne said the export of controlled goods such as military equipment is subject to strict controls, which reflect Australia’s international obligations as a responsible global citizen. Sales to Saudi Arabia strictly adhere to all of these obligations.
Consideration of export applications includes an assessment against the following five criteria: International obligations, national security, human rights, regional security, and foreign policy.
With regard to the situation in Yemen, Australia continues to urge all those involved there to end the conflict and return to negotiations towards a permanent end to hostilities.
File Photo: Australian Defense Industry Minister Christopher Pyne meets with the Head of Saudi National Guard Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah al-Saud in Riyadh (December 2016)