Karel Havlíček

Karel Havlíček

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

The defence and security industry are in good shape, despite the global coronavirus pandemic. They have a significant export potential, offers products with high added value and plays the role of a major regional employer. Although we produce a large number of top-level products, we must not rest on our laurels. The production of competitive, technologically advanced military materials requires highly qualified and specialized experts, as well as a constant increase in the innovative level of military production, which cannot be done without a proper support for research and development carried out by the state.

This is one of the reasons why the MIT last year prepared two programs designed to support and implement innovations based on research and development results - namely The Czech Republic, The Country for the Future, which is also one of the key implementation tools in selected areas of the Czech Republic's Innovation Strategy 2019-2030, and the TREND. Both programs have a total of approximately CZK 16 billion available from the state budget for the period 2020 - 2027, intended, for example, to support the creation of high-tech start-ups, the development of digital and cybernetic technologies or the development of advanced production technologies such as nanotechnologies or industrial bio technologies.

The quality of domestic production in conjunction with the high technological and innovation level is also reflected in the growing export performance of Czech companies. After all, the global competitiveness of domestic armourers is also evidenced by the fact that last year, military material worth almost CZK 17 billion was exported from the Czech Republic. Here, too, the Ministry of Industry and Trade is proactive - it cooperates with the domestic defence and security industry on the organization of business missions or Czech official participations in exhibitions and fairs. Although now, particularly with regard to the coronavirus pandemic, we all have a difficult situation in this.

In my opinion, development of the defence industry or, more precisely, maintaining the defence capability of the armed forces will be based on three pillars in the future. First, the involvement of arms producers in the European defence-industrial initiatives by means of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) or projects supported by the European Defence Fund (EDF). Czech companies have already successfully participated in several PESCO projects in the role of subcontractors, while the Czech Republic is the leading country and the main coordinator of the electronic warfare project.

Second, a robust horizontal link between the state institutions involved and the business community, which should help create a functioning business, innovation and pro-export ecosystem. I can only commend the excellent cooperation of the Ministry of Industry and Trade with the Association of the Defence and Security Industry, confirmed last year by the signing of a memorandum of cooperation in supporting the production potential of Czech entities engaged in the security and defence industry and ensuring its high technical level.

The third pillar is the maximization of the participation of subjects of the domestic defence and security industry in the framework of industrial cooperation with foreign competitors of military contracts. The involvement of domestic companies in these projects reduces the dependence on foreign suppliers and, at the same time, increases the security of supply, which ultimately ensures the self-sufficiency of the armed forces and is particularly important in times of crisis.

I believe that this year's forum will be as successful as the previous ones. I wish you a lot of success and especially good health.

Karel HAVLÍČEK

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Industry and Trade and Minister of Transport of the Czech republic

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