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Modi govt eyes export of defence products in Indian Ocean region and Africa

A consolidated list of items for possible exports, both from the government and private sector, is being worked upon.

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government is looking at countries in the Indian Ocean region and in Africa to push for the export of indigenous defence systems.

The defence ministry is already working on country-wise profiles for possible military exports from India, and Defence Attaches will facilitate the export of indigenous products in the countries they are posted in, ThePrint has learnt.

Sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint that a consolidated list of items for possible exports, both from the government and private sector, is being made.

Along with this, a country-wise profile is being prepared to understand what each country needs and how Indian products can be pushed.

Sources also said that regular interaction between the Defence Attaches and industry is also being planned so that both are aware of the requirements and potential sales.

These are among the steps that are being taken to reach the government’s target of Rs 35,000 crore (USD 5 billion) export in aerospace, and defence goods and services in the next five years.

This is part of the turnover of Rs 1.75 lakh crore (USD 25 billion) in defence manufacturing by 2025 that the government is aiming to achieve.

“We have already introduced a negative import list, which will give a push to domestic production. This list will be expanded over time and more products will be added. Other steps are being taken to ensure that exports take place too,” a source in the defence ministry said.

Another source said that there are a number of countries that are looking at various military systems and not all of them have the capability to procure from western countries, which are global defence exporters.

“The first focus would be India-friendly countries and those in the Indian Ocean region. The African market is also huge,” the source said, pointing out that during the DefExpo in Lucknow held earlier this year, the first-ever India-African Defence Ministers’ conclave was held.

The source underlined that while defence exports would also entail sourcing being done by foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers, the focus is on export of products manufactured by Indian firms.

Also read: 7 big-ticket ‘Make in India’ defence projects that have failed to get off the ground

‘There is a market that India can cater to’

Industry sources welcomed the government’s push on defence production and exports.

“There is a market that India can cater to. There have been some very good products, which have been developed by the private sector. These products can very well cater to the demands of many countries, besides our own,” an industry source said.

He said it becomes easier when the government is backing their bids.

The government has already come out with a draft Defence Production and Export Promotion Policy 2020. It is envisaged as the guiding document of the defence ministry to provide a “focused, structured and significant” thrust to production of military hardware, and platforms for self-reliance and exports.

According to official government figures, the value of export by Defence Public Sector Undertakings, Ordnance Factory Boards and private defence industry (based on the authorisations issued) for the financial year 2017-18 was Rs 4,682 crore.

About 50 Indian companies in the private sector have contributed to defence exports. 

Also read: Domestic arms makers say Army plan to reorder SIG rifles from US setback to ‘Make in India’


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