A broad-ranging Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on defence industry collaboration was signed between the Australian Industry and Defence Network (AIDN) Victoria CEO, Claire Willette and the Region Centre-Val de Loire in France on 13 June 2018.

A result of successful visits and discussions between the Victorian Government Trade and Investment office in London and the government for the Region Centre-Val de Loire, the MoU is highly significant because of the shared interest in defence land systems development within the two regions.

Regarded as the epicentre of France's defence land systems, Region Centre-Val de Loire develops 70 per cent of the country's defence land systems, as well as a significant number of French air system companies involved in defence aerospace. France is the largest defence exporter in the EU and has the largest defence budget in the EU.

Victoria is recognised as Australia’s centre for excellence in the defence land systems realm.

Defence and dual-use companies on both sides are developing a direct dialogue to foster new relationships and identify collaborative projects between the two regions, a critical relationship for Australian companies who want to tender on European defence projects but would otherwise be non-competitive due to strict EU eligibility requirements.

The agreement aligns squarely with the Commonwealth Government’s export defence strategy and the newly established national focus on direct export by Australia’s SMEs into foreign markets.

The MoU is further evidence that collaboration is maturing between the two regions, with a Victorian delegation visiting Bourges as part of the Team Defence Australia delegation visiting Eurosatory in June, a visit to Land Forces by the French delegation in September 2018, as well as a proposed visit by the region’s President to Victoria also in September this year.

The state's defence sector contributes up to A$8 billion to the Victorian economy annually, employs approximately 20,000 people, 7000 in industry and 13,000 in the Australian Defence Organisation, and includes more than 400 businesses which make equipment and provide services for defence activities.

Photo: The defence MoU was signed at France's biggest defence trade show, Eurosatory. (Pictured from left to right – Claire Willette, CEO of AIDN Victoria: Anthony Heath, Defence Investment and Trade Director Europe and UK: and representative from the Region Centre Val de Loire, Aymar de Germay Vice President of Agglomération Bourges Plus)