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25 May 20. Virus obstructs US and UK bids for $800m South Korea helicopter deal. Travel restrictions and spending cuts muddy defence sector outlook. Leonardo, which makes AgustaWestland Wildcat helicopters, was the only bidder in 2018.
Sweeping global travel restrictions have hindered the awarding of an $800m marine helicopter contract being fought over by UK and US manufacturers, in the latest example of the coronavirus pandemic disrupting the defence sector. US-based Lockheed Martin and Italian defence group Leonardo are competing to supply the South Korean navy with 12 anti-submarine helicopters as well as weapons systems and support services. But plans by South Korean military officials to visit both companies to conduct testing have been scuppered by months of delays owing to restrictions that include weeks-long coronavirus quarantine requirements, according to several people familiar with the matter. Both Lockheed Martin and Leonardo declined to comment on the situation.
When it comes to exporting and importing major weapons and defence equipment, experts have to be dispatched for tests before signing a deal Shin In-kyun, Korea Defense Network The Defense Acquisition Program Administration, the South Korean agency handling the tender, said negotiations were continuing. It did not comment further. The hold-ups are the latest in a series of complications for the contract, which has been marred by concerns over transparency and fairness as President Donald Trump pressures allies to contribute more to defence costs.
Shin In-kyun, the head of Korea Defense Network, a Seoul think-tank, said the “unprecedented health crisis worldwide” was having a broad impact on the defence industry. “When it comes to exporting and importing major weapons and defence equipment, experts have to be dispatched for tests before signing a deal. Unless they get exceptional treatment regarding travel restrictions and quarantine, these international deals are likely to be delayed,” Mr Shin said. Leonardo, which makes AgustaWestland Wildcat helicopters at Yeovil in south-west England and is the incumbent supplier for marine helicopters to the South Korean navy, was the only company to submit a proposal following an initial round of bidding in 2018. However, DAPA is also considering a rival bid from Lockheed Martin after the US company joined the bidding process last year. The Maryland-headquartered group wants to sell its MH-60R Seahawk, commonly referred to as the “Romeo” — the same helicopters India purchased this month in a $900m deal.
Experts said the contract delay underscored broader uncertainty as defence companies face problems caused not only disruptions from travel restrictions and lockdowns, but also smaller defence budgets as governments are forced to reallocate funding for virus response efforts. John Dowdy, a McKinsey partner, wrote this month that while defence manufacturers were so far “largely unscathed” while weathering disruptions, tough spending cuts loomed. “Defence spending is driven by annual budget cycles rather than daily load factor, so changes can take longer to manifest. As we enter a new fiscal year, defence manufacturers could face big headwinds,” he said.
South Korea has signalled plans to trim its defence budget for 2020 by about Won900bn ($725m) as it deploys $200bn in virus-related spending. Analysts reckon that further cuts may be required if the global economic downturn persists. “It is unavoidable that governments divert defence spending to shore up the economy and boost welfare spending in these times . . . The [South Korean] government is likely to adjust its midterm defence spending plans, delaying purchases of major weapons by a year or two,” said Yang Wook, a senior researcher at the Korea Defense and Security Forum, a think-tank. (Source: FT.com)
22 May 20. Russia calls US withdrawal from Open Skies ‘next-step’ in destroying international security order.
The Russian government has described the United States’ decision to unilaterally leave the Open Skies Treaty as “the next step” in Washington’s dismantling of the international security architecture.
The US, which until now has been flying the OC-135B in the Open Skies role, is set to withdraw from the international treaty on 22 November.
Speaking in the immediate aftermath of the US announcement on 21 May, the Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Medvedev, said that the US termination of the treaty is expected in the context of the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the wider international security order.
“The decision announced by Washington on the upcoming withdrawal from the Open Skies treaty was the next step by the United States on the path to destroying the decades-old international security architecture,” Medvedev said, adding, “In statements by US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the termination of American participation in this agreement is expected to be framed by alleged violations of its provisions by Russia. A similar justification scheme for their own destructive actions has been used by Washington more than once as a contrived reason to withdraw from other fundamental documents in the field of arms control, including missile defence treaties, on medium and shorter-range missiles.”
Medvedev’s comments followed Pompeo’s 21 May press release in which he stated that the United States will cease to be a party to the treaty on 22 November. (Source: Jane’s)
22 May 20. China announces $178.2bn military budget. China has announced a 6.6 percent growth in its defense budget for this year, its lowest rate of increase for almost three decades.
The growth in China’s defense budget would see spending rise from $167bn last year to $178.2bn, an increase of about $11bn. The country has the second-largest defense budget in the world, behind only the United States.
Despite the growth of China’s defense budget being at its lowest, in percentage terms, since the early 1990s, the 6.6 percent figure only represents a slightly lower figure than the 7-7.5 percent growth many analysts estimated before the pandemic. In real dollar terms, the $11bn increase in defense spending is the fifth-highest increase ever for the country.
It also shows that China is determined that the People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, will remain insulated as much as possible from the negative economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in China’s economy shrinking by 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same time last year.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said as much during his speech Friday at the opening of the annual gathering of its largely rubber stamp parliament. He pledged that the PLA would not be worse off.
“We will deepen reforms in national defense and the military, increase our logistic and equipment support capacity, and promote innovative development of defense-related science and technology,” he told legislators at the opening of the National People’s Congress, which kicked off Friday at the Great Hall of the People in China’s capital, Beijing.
Li also touched on the issue of Taiwan during his speech, reiterating that China would “resolutely oppose and deter any separatist activities seeking Taiwan independence.” He also called on the Taiwanese people to “join the mainland in opposing Taiwanese independence and to promote reunification.”
China views Taiwan as a breakaway province, with the self-governing island off its coast having formed its own government in 1949 when Nationalist forces fled there following defeat at the hands of Communists during China’s civil war.
Perhaps tellingly, Li dropped the use of the word “peaceful” when talking of reunification with Taiwan, a departure from decades of using it as the standard expression Chinese leaders used when addressing parliament and mentioning Taiwan. Although China has never renounced the possible use of force for reunification efforts.
Li’s call for reunification came as U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper reaffirmed that the country would stand by Taiwan. Speaking on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Esper said the U.S. would “certainly live up to our commitments to Taiwan,” noting that it is also bound by the Taiwan Relations Act enacted by Congress, which pledges to supply Taiwan with weapons it needs for its defense.
Accordingly, the U.S. State Department announced Thursday that it has approved the sale of an additional 18 heavyweight submarine torpedoes to Taiwan for $180m. The Mk 46 Mod 6 Advanced Technology torpedoes will equip Taiwan’s submarine fleet, and the approval follows another for 48 similar weapons in 2017.
Taiwan has reported that Chinese military activity around the island continues unabated throughout the ongoing pandemic, with Chinese naval vessels and military aircraft regularly operating in international airspace and waters around Taiwan.
China calls the movements routine training exercises. However, the island’s government sees these moves as part of an intimidation campaign against Taiwan and regularly publicizes PLA ship and aircraft movements in its vicinity. (Source: Defense News)
22 May 20. Germany’s TKMS buys Brazilian shipyard as production hub for local frigate program. German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems will buy the Oceana shipyard in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina to manufacture Tamandaré-class frigates for Brazil’s Navy, the company announced this week.
The German vendor heads the Águas Azuis consortium, which is building an initial set of four ships based on its MEKO vessel design. The industry team also includes Embraer Defence and Security as well as its subsidiary Atech. TKMS, based in Kiel, Germany, has no production facilities for surface ships, which means the company must make arrangements for local production when selling its flagship vessel design overseas.
The pick of the Oceana yard, which specializes in offshore support vessels and is owned by CBO Group of Rio de Janeiro, was the result of the TKMS’ own economic and logistical analyses and turned out to be an “ideal option,” according to a spokesman.
“The shipyard also offers us the prospect of taking on follow-on orders — not only locally, but also in other countries of South America,” CEO Rolf Wirtz was quoted as saying in a statement.
The acquisition is subject to approval by Brazilian antitrust authorities, and it is contingent on the frigate contract going into effect sometime in the “middle of the year,” the statement read. A company spokesman declined to name a date. Parties involved in the planned transaction would not disclose a price.
The Águas Azuis consortium aims to deliver the Tamandaré-class frigates between 2025 and 2028. The companies aim to train 800 local employees for the job. “This means that ships with a very high domestic added value can be built in Brazil,” the company said.
Embraer is slated to be the systems integrator for weapons and sensors on the new ships. Atech, with help from TKMS subsidiary Atlas Elektronik, will supply the combat management system.
(Source: Defense News)
20 May 20. Scandal-ridden Ukroboronprom seeks fresh start in ties with Western arms makers. If Ukroboronprom is to continue as anything more than a local defense firm, the Ukrainian conglomerate will need to find industrial partners abroad, according to director general Aivaras Abromavicius.
And attracting those foreign investors will be nearly impossible without a set of needed reforms to the government-owned company, Abromavicius warned Tuesday— reforms he acknowledged seem to be stalling out at the government level.
“Western investors and Western companies are very sophisticated and they’re very smart. You know, Ukroboronprom for years has had a tainted reputation,” Abromavicius said at an event hosted by the Atlantic Council. “So it is very clear that almost no Western company of any reputation and size is interested in directly acquiring any assets in the defense sector in Ukraine because of the reputational risks.”
That is one of the many reasons Abromavicius is pushing reforms of the company, whose questionable reputation was further damaged by a massive scandal in 2019 involving executives receiving kickbacks on parts smuggled in from Russia. The scandal rocked Ukrainian politics, with some arguing it was a major factor in the loss of the presidency by Petro Poroshenko.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, inaugurated in May 2019, launched an effort to clean up the mess, which included appointing Abromavicius, a former minister of economy and trade, to oversee a reorganization of the company.
Abromavicius, who is pushing a full financial audit of the company alongside a potential reorg of its business units, stressed that “we need to raise governance standards to completely different levels,” factoring in increased transparency, if the company is to have any hope of working with nations abroad. And, he said, Ukroboronprom needs partnerships to survive as anything other than a local, small concern.
“The way forward for us is to do joint ventures,” Abromavicius said. “Obviously the way forward is just to set up production facilities in Turkey, in India, you now, United Arab Emirates, whereby our [intellectual property] and their financial resources [combine] together to produce for the domestic and global needs.”
While acknowledging that U.S. firms are reluctant to work with Ukroboronprom given its history, such a tie-up would be cheap for any of the major American defense companies, said the Atlantic Council’s Michael Carpenter. And, he warned, the American government may soon have a major geopolitical incentive to try and push a Lockheed Martin or Raytheon to work with the Ukrainians.
“With the economic chaos that’s being wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, I predict you will see China moving into a lot of countries in Eastern Europe and looking to buy up distressed assets at bargain prices, and it’s going to be crucial that when Ukroboronprom looks for outside investors or looks for doing joint ventures, that U.S defense industry is poised to partner, and to invest,” Carpenter said.
“It’s going to be very important for, I think, the U.S. government also to push our defense industry a little bit to look at this as an opportunity,” continued Carpenter. “It’s going to be important from a sort of strategic sense not to allow this industrial base to get snapped up by Chinese or other countries that are going to be, frankly, operating in a predatory manner in the months ahead, and that we allow for that matchmaking, not just with U.S. firms but with European firms as well to go forward.”
While not directly tied to defense matters, Boeing is reportedly considering some sort of team up with Antonov on the cargo side, with the Ukranians pushing for a formal joint venture.
Beijing, meanwhile, has attempted major inroads in Ukraine, with Chinese aerospace firm Skyrizon attempting to purchase a controlling stake in engine manufacturer Motor Sich and the Tianjiao Aviation Industry Investment Company attempting to purchase a chunk of the Antonov facility which produced the An-225 Mriya. China has emerged as a major economic trading partner with Ukraine in the years since Kyiv cut off relations with Russia. (Antonov falls under the Ukroboronprom umbrella.)
Pentagon acquisition head Ellen Lord has warned several times since the COVID-19 pandemic began that the DoD needs to be keeping an eye on both the domestic and foreign defense industry, with the expectation China will attempt to use the economic downturn to its advantage.
“Western allies took a backseat, ignored the Ukrainian defense sector, and you know, [the] Chinese stepped in and snapped up the best of the private companies in this sector in Ukraine,” said Abromavicius. “So I would urge, obviously, our allies to take a better look at the defense sector which is being reformed right now in Ukraine. And, you know, show us, show more interest in doing things together.”
While Zelenskiy came into office promising major reforms to the country, activists have accused his government of stalling out on many of the promised efforts. Abromavicius “fully” acknowledged that the reorganization of Ukroboronprom has slowed recently, saying he hopes Western officials can “give it a kick” to get things moving again, but he expressed his hope that in the coming weeks there may be legislative action.
“So it is a bit too early to say that we have a full support, because I say that everybody and their dog has its own view of what Ukroboronprom reform should look like,” he said. “And I think overall, the Defense and Security Committee is a strong supporter, Ministry of the Economy is a strong supporter, I believe that president’s offices as well. And I hope that Ministry of Defense is on our side” soon, he said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
20 May 20. Japan defence ministry investigating potential hack of next-gen missile details: Asahi. Japan’s defence ministry is investigating a possible leak of details of a new state-of-the-art missile in a large-scale cyber attack on Mitsubishi Electric Corp, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The ministry suspects hackers stole performance requirements that were sent to several defence-industry companies as part of the bidding process for the project, the Asahi reported, citing government sources whom it did not identify. Mitsubishi Electric did not win the bid for the prototype, the newspaper said. Mitsubishi Electric said it was investigating the report but had no other immediate comment when contacted by Reuters. The defence ministry also did not provide an immediate comment.
The missile is of a type in use by countries including the United States, China and Russia, which flies at supersonic speeds over long distances and can pass through enemy missile defence networks to make precision strikes, the newspaper said. Japan has been researching such missiles since fiscal 2018, it said.
Among the leaked details may have been range, propulsion and heat resistance, according to the newspaper. (Source: Reuters)
18 May 20. India ups foreign investment, but will stop importing weapons that can be made locally. India announced Saturday that global companies can now invest up to 74 percent in the country’s defense manufacturing units, up from 49 percent, without requiring any government approval.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman expressed hope that the new policy will attract foreign companies with high-end technologies to set up their manufacturing bases in India in collaboration with Indian companies.
Sitharaman’s announcement came as part of reforms Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is implementing to revive India’s economy, which has been shattered by the coronavirus pandemic. She also told reporters that India will stop importing weapons that can be made in the country.
“We will notify a list of weapons and platforms for ban on their imports and fix deadlines to do it,” she said, adding that this will improve self-reliance on defense manufacturing.
India introduced up to 49 percent foreign direct investment in defense production in 2016 to attract modern technology in the country. That attracted more than 18.34bn rupees (US$244m) until December last year, according to a government statement.
India issues defense-industrial licenses for making tanks, military aircraft, spacecraft and their parts, UAVs, missiles for military purposes, and warships.
India, a major buyer of military equipment, depended largely on the former Soviet Union during the Cold War. But it has been diversifying its purchases by opting for U.S. equipment as well.
During U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to India in February, the two countries signed a deal for India to buy from the U.S. more than $3bn in advanced military equipment, including helicopters. (Source: Defense News)
18 May 20. China’s defence budget likely to grow despite economic cost of coronavirus. China, facing what it sees as increasing military pressure from the United States, is likely to shrug off the pall hanging over its economy from the novel coronavirus and increase its defence budget again this year.
China’s military spending, due to be announced at the opening of the annual meeting of parliament on Friday, is closely watched as a barometer of how aggressively it will beef up its military capabilities.
China set a 7.5% rise for the defence budget in 2019, outpacing what ended up as full-year gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.1% in the world’s second-largest economy.
Its economy shrank 6.8% in the first quarter of 2020 from a year earlier, as the novel coronavirus spread from the central city of Wuhan where it emerged late last year, and the government has said economic conditions remain challenging.
Despite the coronavirus outbreak, the armed forces of China and the United States have remained active in both the disputed South China Sea and around Chinese-claimed Taiwan.
Xie Yue, a professor of political science at Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University and a security expert, said that while it is hard to predict if the defence budget would grow at a higher or lower rate than last year, it would definitely rise.
“From the national security point of view, China needs to appear strong to the West, especially the United States, which has been putting more pressure on China on all fronts, including militarily,” he said.
The coronavirus has worsened already poor ties between Beijing and Washington, with accusations from the Trump administration of a Chinese cover-up and delayed release of information about the outbreak.
The Ministry of State Security warned in a recent internal report that China faced a rising wave of hostility in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak that could tip relations with the United States into armed confrontation.
“Even if the government cuts everything else, it won’t cut defence,” said Tang Renwu, dean of Beijing Normal University’s school of public administration.
The Defence Ministry did not respond to a request for comment. China routinely says spending is for defensive purposes only, is a comparatively low percentage of its GDP, and that critics just want to keep the country down.
China reports only a raw figure for military expenditure, with no breakdown. It is widely believed by diplomats and foreign experts to under-report the real number.
Taking the reported figure at face value, China’s defence budget in 2019 – 1.19trn yuan ($167.52bn) – is about a quarter of the U.S. defence budget last year, which stood at $686bn.
China has long argued that it needs much more investment to close the gap with the United States. China, for example, has only two aircraft carriers, compared with 12 for the United States.
Hu Xijin, editor of the ruling Communist Party-backed Global Times newspaper, wrote in a WeChat post on Monday that he anticipated the defence budget would rise.
“China needs more military power as a deterrent, to ensure the U.S. will not act on its impulses because of unbearable costs,” Hu said.
Hu had previously argued that China should expand its stock of nuclear warheads to 1,000, including “at least 100 DF-41 strategic missiles”, an intercontinental missile capable of striking the continental United States.
Experts point out that the benefit of increasing defence spending when the economy is weak is that it can give the economy a much-needed shot in the arm, with manufacturing struggling and domestic consumption slack over worries about job security.
China’s 2019 defence spending represented slightly over 5% of total government expenditure and about 1.2% of GDP for the year.
Xie said investing in home-grown military technology research and development would be money well-spent, as tightening sanctions meant it was increasingly hard for China to buy technology on the global market.
“With nationalist sentiment running high, not only will the increase in military expenditure not be criticised too much, it may even lead to citizens feeling more pride in the country,” he said. ($1 = 7.1037 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Source: Reuters)
18 May 20. Australian PM signals shift in economic, national sovereignty plans post-COVID. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has given a rare glimpse into the early stages of what Australia’s post-COVID-19 recovery strategy will look like, giving renewed hope to the growing calls for a co-ordinated national sovereignty strategy to enhance the nation’s economic and national security.
Driven by an unprecedented economic transformation, propelling once developing nations onto the world stage, the region, the globe and its established powers, including Australia, have enjoyed a period of previously unseen economic prosperity and stability.
Australia in particular has been buoyed by the immense mineral and resource wealth of the landmass and the benevolence of the post-Second World War political, economic and strategic order, namely the tactical and strategic freedom enabled by the US to capitalise upon the immense economic opportunities, with little concern for national security and supply chains.
However, across the Indo-Pacific, competing economic, political and strategic interests, designs and ambitions are beginning to clash, flying in contrast to the projections of many historians at the end of the Cold War – further compounding these issues is the continued instability caused by COVID-19, economic disruption through the advent of automation and artificial intelligence and, of course, concerns about ecological collapse.
For Australia and comparable Western nations, like the US, UK and increasingly across the European Union, the outbreak of COVID-19 has only served to further hasten the economic decline, stagnation and political malaise experienced throughout the developed world, with many once-powerful, world-leading nations beginning to feel the pressure.
Further compounding Australia’s challenges in this era of disruption is the growing economic tensions and conflict emerging between China and the rest of the world, with Australian industries, from agriculture and mineral exports, through to education all in the sights of Beijing.
In particular, recent threats of economic coercion, made by Beijing’s ambassador in Canberra, Cheng Jingye, combined with growing domestic sentiment about breaking Australia’s economic dependence on the rising power has prompted many within Australia’s public and strategic policy communities and the Australian media to begin expanding the debate.
The time has come
This perfect storm of factors has prompted many within Australia’s political and strategic policymaking communities, as well as journalists, to call for a reset of Australia’s economic policy, with a focus on building what NSW senator and retired Major General Jim Molan defines as ‘national sovereignty’ to better position the nation and secure its national security in an era of great power competition.
Other examples include John Coyne of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), who has penned a piece, titled ‘Making our own luck in the face of a pandemic’, calling for Australia to use the impact of the global pandemic to take advantage of the moniker of the ‘lucky country’ and establish a semblance of national resilience and security, learning the lessons of over-dependence on global supply chains and blind faith in ‘market forces’ to secure national interests.
“Australia, like many countries, failed to heed such warnings. Critical pandemic readiness policies were overexposed to short-sighted budget cuts underpinned by the dogged pursuit of efficiency. The long-term development of critical infrastructure was left to the whims of market forces. Nation-building efforts were underpinned by a user-pays model,” Coyne states.
“COVID-19 has already shown that market forces don’t promote adequate national resilience in myriad areas, from broadband bandwidth to the capacity to produce basic medical supplies, and that far too much of our preparation for pandemics, along with national resilience, was predicated on good luck.”
The key point of this is a growing realisation that Australia’s national resilience must be subject to a considered, consistent and well-articulated strategy and policy platform and leadership from within Australia’s political and public service class.
Adequately responding to these challenges also necessitates a clear understanding of the difference between ‘national security’ and ‘national resilience’, particularly in the modern context.
Coyne reinforces this, stating, “Until now, Australian long-term funding of national resilience and responsiveness often seemed economically inefficient. Little surprise, then, that policymakers regularly looked to the market to provide such resilience, especially in critical infrastructure investments.
“However, the creation of spare capacity is often not a commercially viable prospect. Arguably, the NT government’s decision to maintain the Howard Springs site, without a clear customer, was a high-risk one.”
More recently, Chris Uhlmann writing for The Sydney Morning Herald has stated, “we can’t return to business as usual with China”, prompting increased debate in light of the rapidly evolving geo-political and economic environment Australia finds itself in.
Echoing these sentiments, Uhlmann is scathing in his positioning of the argument, something that has been long overdue as the nation embodies the very definition of the Lazy Country, something Donald Horne, author of The Lucky Country, considered was a far more accurate descriptor of Australia.
“To date Australia’s business captains and university chiefs have shown they can’t handle the truth. As long as the rivers of gold flowed, they were happy to urge silence in the face of the militarisation of the South China Sea, industrial-scale cyber theft, the arbitrary arrest of our citizens, rampant foreign interference and the imprisonment of a million Uighurs in Xinjiang.
“In the words of a former intelligence officer: ‘I don’t understand why Australian politicians think that we have to build a relationship of trust with China in order to do business with it. Russia and China understand each other perfectly because they don’t trust each other at all’,” Uhlmann states.
The PM heralds a shift
In response to the growing groundswell of support for the Australian government to design and implement a national strategy, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has used an interview with Simon Benson of The Australian to lay the groundwork for a post-COVID-19 revival of Australia’s economic diversity and industrial capacity.
Benson, states, “Scott Morrison will urge a new industrial compact between workers, employers, unions and government to boost employment and forge a remodelled economy after the pandemic, while signalling a new and more effective federation emerging from the crisis.
“Ahead of a headland speech next week expected to kick off the debate over longer-term reform, the Prime Minister said the country could not return to the pre-COVID-19 system that had undermined productivity and had begun to show signs of ‘sclerosis’.”
This scene-setting paves the way for the Prime Minister to elaborate on his plans, in what Benson describes as a “call to arms for a united approach to reshaping the economy comes as an exclusive Newspoll conducted for The Australian shows a surge in support for the collective government approach in handling the economic crisis and the strengthening of the public health system to cope with the health crisis”.
“More than 75 per cent of voters claim confidence in the health system, while those backing the government’s approach to managing the impact on the economy have shot up from 47 per cent to 60 per cent despite the release of ‘devastating’ unemployment numbers,” he adds.
The Prime Minister builds on the underlying premise, stating, “Over a long period of time our economic success has built up a momentum, but it was also building some sclerosis … and the ability to deal with that was very limited because of the success we had.
“Australia’s economy has been very resilient … you could argue that has not motivated people to seek new and better set of arrangements. It has left employees and employers to settle for what was there and not reach to the next level where they will both genuinely benefit.
“Businesses have to have a competitive cost base. They have to be able to draw on the best of the skills base that match their needs and they have to be engaged in technology and they have to diversify into markets that will sustain them.”
One thing is certain, the old paradigm of Australia as farm, mine and schoolyard is over, the Australian public have recognised the exposure and dependence the national economy has on potentially unreliable partners, combined with the rapid acts of self-preservation among the ‘globalised’ world powers, prompting a major and timely rethink of the nation’s national security and sovereignty. (Source: Defence Connect)
17 May 20. Statement on Afghanistan by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. I welcome the decision taken by Afghanistan’s political leaders to resolve their differences and join efforts to form an inclusive government.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued Taliban violence against their fellow Afghans, it is more important than ever that all Afghan leaders unite and work towards enduring peace in Afghanistan. We call on the Taliban to live up to their commitments, reduce violence now, take part in intra-Afghan negotiations, and make real compromises for lasting peace and the benefit of all Afghans.
All parties should seize this unprecedented opportunity for peace. We need to see a comprehensive agreement which ends violence; safeguards the human rights of all Afghans, including women; upholds the rule of law; and eliminates terrorist safe havens once and for all.
NATO Allies and partners remain firmly committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security and stability, through our Resolute Support training mission, and with funding. (Source: NATO)
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