Market access and a level playing field

Issues connected with access to the international defence market on equal terms are an extremely high priority for SOFF. These issues primarily concern access to the domestic and European market, but also in part of the US market as well. When it comes to the Swedish market, the issue’s main focus is on how member companies and above all SMEs can gain access to Swedish procurements and research programmes. Developments in regulation in the international market, primarily the EU and US, govern these markets’ terms and accessibility.

At a European level, the more important issues are the implementation of the defence procurement directives in national bodies of legislation, and above all what the political leadership in each country chooses to make of these directives. Regulations may be used to open up markets, but also to exclude competing countries if that is the goal. It is important to constantly try to minimise barriers to trade with the US. The major budget cuts in the US defence budget will probably result in a greater need to cooperate with other countries and actors, as well as to acquire knowledge and technologies abroad. At the same time, there are reasons to assume that competition from American firms will increase as they become more export-oriented, for reasons including the US’s new export control legislation which is intended to facilitate defence materiel exports.

SOFF shares the view that an open and competitive market will work well in the long term for both producers and customers. At the same time, the market mechanisms at work in the defence sector must be taken into account. This is a sector with special characteristics, where the only customers are governments and where national sovereignty and national security interests play a decisive role. In practice, this affects how far and how fast individual countries can move towards an open and competitive market.

Protectionist practices still cause the market to develop unevenly, and allow serious barriers to competition to remain in place. This means that substantial parts of the market still remain inaccessible for genuine competition. It is important to Swedish industry that the export market within the EU be made accessible at the same pace and to the same extent that the Swedish market opens up to competition.

SOFF is closely surveiling the development of the European defence market, and is interested in working with the relevant bodies to lobby for this market to open up. Such a development will strengthen the international competitiveness of the Swedish security and defence industry.