Canberra - Australia has said it plans to become one of the world's top 10 defence industry exporters within a decade. The nation currently sells about A$2bn (£1.15bn; $1.6bn) in defence equipment each year, making it the 20th largest arms exporter.

Manufacturers would now be offered government-backed loans to stimulate the industry, PM Malcolm Turnbull said. Aid groups said the move would not help global efforts to build peace, an assertion rejected by the government.

The nation said it would primarily focus on boosting exports to the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, but it would also target markets in Asia and the Middle East.

"This is all about Australian jobs," Mr Turnbull told reporters on Monday, adding that "the goal is to get into the top 10". The expansion includes setting up a A$3.8bn loan scheme to help Australian companies sell defence equipment overseas.

The government will also establish separate agencies to better co-ordinate and promote industry exports.(FA)