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Australia Unveils Plans to Boost Int’l Arms Sales

FILE - An Australian troop transporter wades onto Langham beach during military exercises in Queensland, northeast Australia, July 13, 2017.

Australia has set out an ambitious strategy to become one of the world’s top 10 weapons exporters within 10 years. Ministers say the plan will boost global peacekeeping efforts, as well as create thousands of jobs in Australia.

As part of its plan, Canberra wants to sell more of its military technology and hardware, including armored vehicles and surveillance systems. It currently sells about $1.6 billion worth of weapons each year and is ranked 20th in a global list of arms exporters, but it has ambitions to break into the top 10. There will be government grants to help companies boost sales.

Australian Minister for Defense Industry Christopher Pyne says the plan could create tens of thousands of jobs. He says it will also boost international peacekeeping efforts.

“Our primary market is New Zealand, Canada, the U.K. and the United States. That is where the vast majority of our effort will be placed and has been placed. We need a strong alliance with those kinds of countries with the capabilities that we need militarily to ensure that we maintain peace in the world. I do not think anybody would question our role in places like Iraq and Syria most recently,” Pyne said.

The plan has been anticipated since mid-2017 when Pyne said he wanted to sell more Australian-made weapons overseas.

At the time the charity World Vision said the policy was "exporting death and profiting from bloodshed."

Aid organizations said the move would not boost global peace efforts, a claim rejected by the Australian government.

Officials have asserted that the “price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”

The United States is the world's largest arms exporter, followed by Russia, China, France, Germany and the U.K., according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.