In the last three years, the country witnessed a “staggering” 700% growth in defence exports - from ₹1,521 crore in 2016-17 to ₹10,745 crore in 2018-19, which is an all-time high and 19th in the list of defence exporters in 2019, according to Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Bipin Rawat.
“We must move out of the constant threat of sanctions of dependency on individual nations for military requirements,” he said, talking of the huge defence imports, at a webinar by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on catalysing defence exports, on Wednesday.
“India is the third largest spender on defence around the world. It’s time to have a hard look at the distribution of our budget expenditure. We must carry out a realistic analysis of our expenditure. We are the only net importer in the category and account for 9.2% of global arms imports”, he noted.
With the aim to achieve a manufacturing turnover of $25 bn or ₹1,75,000 crore, including exports of $5 bn in aerospace and defence goods and services by 2025, in August, the Defence Ministry issued a draft ‘Defence Production & Export Promotion Policy (DPEPP) 2020’.
A series of measures had been taken since 2014 to boost exports, including simplified defence industrial licensing, relaxation of export control and grant of No Objection Certificates (NOC), Gen. Rawat pointed out.
Specific incentives were introduced under the foreign trade policy. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has facilitated a Line of Credit for foreign countries to import defence products. “Where feasible, defence exports can also be financed through the Exim Bank,” he observed.
Defence Attaches in Indian missions were empowered to promote defence exports which would also strengthen defence diplomacy, he stated.
Gen. Rawat acknowledged that the current Indian military fleet “comprises fair share of vintage platforms”, which were under modernisation plans in the coming decades. There was a plan to share some of these vintage platforms with domestic industry to assist in their research and development to develop cutting edge military technology, he added.