South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol vowed Thursday to step up efforts to boost arms exports and secure cutting-edge defence technologies in his goal of turning the country’s arms industry into the fourth-largest exporter of weapons of the world
Yoon hosted a meeting on defence export promotion for the first time since he took office in May, designed to explore ways to shift the industry’s mainstay to exports of domestic supplies.
“The defence industry is a new engine of future growth and the lynchpin of the high-tech industry,” Yoon said at the meeting held at Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd, the only South Korean warplane developer located in the city. Sacheon, in the southeast of the country.
“With the competition for technological supremacy intensifying, we need to ensure technological competitiveness to develop game-changing weapons systems for future wars.”
To that end, he called for improving the conditions for research and investment by defence contractors and building an ecosystem that can grow autonomously by fostering a more export-oriented industrial structure.
The meeting came four months after South Korea closed its most giant arms deal with Poland, estimated at up to 20 trillion won ($15 billion), including exports of tanks and howitzers.
In August, Yoon revealed the goal of building the country’s defence industry to the fourth largest in the world, after the United States, Russia and France.
Yoon said that a growing number of countries, including Australia and Norway, are seeking to ramp up defence cooperation, which would help bolster South Korea’s capability to counter North Korea’s threats while contributing to peace and stability in the international community.
“Some say that there might be a vacuum in our military force due to defence exports as part of their political offensive, but the government will maintain a thorough military readiness posture while actively supporting those exports,” Yoon said.