On the eve of DSEi 2019, our sister magazine NAVAL FORCES spoke with Mark Goldsack, Director of the Department for International Trade Defence and Security Organisation (DIT DSO), about his organisation’s tasks and responsibilities to ensure that defence and security equipment makers in Britain can access the right support from Government to achieve export success. DIT DSO is faced with helping British defence and security industries export their innovative products; maintaining relationships with overseas governments to promote British defence and security products; working with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and industry to ensure defence and security products have export potential; and providing UK defence and security companies with specialist support to sell their products. DIT DSO addresses stronger commitments in particular geographical areas, including the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America.
MON: How long has DIT DSO been in existence, and what are your organisation’s tasks and objectives?
Mark Goldsack: The Defence Sales Organisation, now called DIT DSO, was formed in 1966 when the then Labour Government decided that Defence Exports were essential to the future economy of the UK. Our aim is simple: to support Defence and Security Exports. We transferred from the MoD to the now Department for International Trade in 2008 with the aim of putting all the export sectors together. Our objective is clear: to ensure that the UK stays as one of the most successful defence and security exporters. Defence exports for 2018 were £14 billion and security exports £5.2 billion. If we are to maintain our market position over the next decade, we must confront several challenges. Customers want more than a piece of equipment. This is not new. They want a relationship based on trust that involves local manufacture, involvement in the design and through-life product development, and a training package. We need to redouble early progress toward seizing a larger share of global security exports. This is a rapidly increasing market. We need to move away from the heavy reliance on two defence export markets – thee Gulf and the United States – and seize opportunities in the growing markets of Asia and Latin America, as our competitors have done.
MON: What exactly is it that you can do in support of the export efforts of the British defence industry?
Mark Goldsack: Our most important role is bringing HMG […] and industry together to offer coherent capability packages and work closely at all levels in Government and industry to achieve export success. We, in DIT DSO, offer support in many ways, especially as defence and security exports are Government-to-Government. It is important that before companies undertake campaigns, they have extensive knowledge of the country they are targeting. We can use our in-country teams, including Defence Attachés to explain how to do business, how overseas armed forces are structured and their procurement practices. We can explain to companies the opportunities in markets, potential competitors, encourage industrial cooperation, the cultural requirements and access to finance via our Export Finance team who can offer loans and protect against non-payment. We work closely with the MoD and Foreign and Commonwealth Office to offer a cross Government approach. It is clear that major platform programme numbers are reducing; so, we need to work with industry in supplying supporting equipment. Governments are also looking at using their own industries to build their own products. We need to encourage industry to look at offering intellectual property and technology transfer, essential if we want to enhance opportunities for success.
MON: In which areas do you operate and how strong is your team?
Mark Goldsack: We support companies across the globe and have priority markets where we have staff who can relay back opportunities and also help in country. We are split into two Regional Directorates covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa [MENA] and Asia and Australasia. We have a mixed team of civilian and military teams, including a range of specialist staff covering the cyber and security sectors. We also have a network of overseas staff based in Embassies and High Commissions across the world supporting both prime and smaller. We are unique in having soldiers seconded to a unit called the “Export Support Team” who can help smaller companies access the global market and offer impartial advice on their products and capabilities. Our military staff can also offer expert advice using their experience. We have a small team called the “Strengthening DIT DSO”, which is a strand of the Defence Growth Partnership. This Government initiative launched over five years ago helps countries identify their longer-term requirements. We work hard with smaller companies and our dedicated team arrange briefings and make visits to help companies understand how we can help. I am proud to have a dedicated team who understand the important of defence and security exports and the importance they contribute to the economy.
MON: Can your organisation assist British industries in mastering the challenges of Brexit?
Mark Goldsack: It is inappropriate at this time to make any comment as the situation has yet to be clear. We are working as normal. Defence exports to Europe are important but are not a significant percentage of overall defence and security exports. I am encouraged that industry continues to look at more global markets appreciating that they need to look at wider priorities and also emerging markets where we can support countries in identifying their future requirements. We are going through one of the largest modernisations of our armed forces, and the capabilities of our defence industry in achieving this modernisation will be helpful to countries who are also planning to modernise their forces. Working with our international partners, we can help our customers get the best equipment and work with us in the future.
MON: What does your exhibition schedule for this and the next year look like?
Mark Goldsack: We attend around 20 exhibitions a year across the world, which are important opportunities to network with overseas delegations. They are also important vehicles to encourage more industrial cooperation and partnerships between UK and overseas companies. We attend the major defence and security exhibitions also to support our main trade associations and smaller companies. The Farnborough Air Show and DSEi are very important exhibitions where we work with the organisers to support overseas delegations. I am proud that these exhibitions are considered as the best in the world and an important opportunity for the UK to showcase our world leading capabilities.
MON: Can you give examples of international defence programmes with British industry participation taking advantage of DIT DSO’s support?
Mark Goldsack: The UK has had recent success in Canada and Australia by BAE Systems with the Type 26 programmes and most recently Leonardo in Poland with their helicopter success. We support campaigns where the UK is in involved in international consortiums. DIT DSO plays a significant role in major campaigns and HMG support can often the difference in achieving export success. It is clear that, in the coming years, the global market will be demanding with customers expecting innovative approaches, value for money solutions supported by training and logistical support. We have strived to achieve this but will need to improve the UK offer, working with our international partners, we can achieve this. Most importantly, we must encourage industry to be more flexible and agile. Our successes to date have been based on a government industry partnership. I am confident that if we continue to work closely together, we can achieve continued success.
MON: What are the highlights that you will be presenting at DSEi 2019?
Mark Goldsack: DSEi is the preeminent international platform for HMG and the UK Defence Industry. Its significance is such that it draws thousands of visitors from the governments and industry globally. DIT DSO, on behalf of Clarion [the organisers], HM Government and UK industry, coordinates a programme of 60+ international delegations, whose engagements are managed throughout the duration of the show, to maximise benefit to those official guests, HMG and UK Industry. I would like to acknowledge the amount of Ministerial support we get at DSEi; I am confident that we will again get high-level support this year. With regard to highlights, we are promoting a UK defence and security capability area manned by soldiers from our Export Support Team. This will be focused on supporting smaller companies. This has been a very successful dimension to DSEi with international delegations visiting and showing interest in the capabilities we offer. With the area manned by experts in our Export Support Team companies who agree to have their equipment displayed can be confident that they will get extensive profile.