The South Korean leader wants to build the country’s arms industry into the world’s fourth largest arms exporter.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has pledged to step up efforts to boost arms exports and secure advanced defense technologies, while the country’s arms industry and make it the fourth largest arms exporter in the world.

Yoon hosted a meeting on promoting defense exports for the first time since taking office in May, designed to explore ways to shift the industry’s mainstay from domestic supplies to exports.

“The defense industry is a new future growth engine and the hub of the high-tech industry,” Yoon told the meeting at Korea Aerospace Industries, South Korea’s only fighter jet developer in the southeastern city of Sacheon.

“With increasing competition for technological supremacy, we must secure the technological competitiveness to develop groundbreaking weapon systems for future wars.”

Yoon called for better conditions for defense contractors to conduct research and investment and the creation of an ecosystem capable of fostering a more export-oriented industry structure.

The meeting came four months after South Korea struck its largest-ever arms deal with Poland, estimated at 20 trillion Korean won ($15 billion), including exports of tanks and howitzers.

In August, Yoon revealed a goal to make the country’s defense industry the fourth largest producer in the world after the United States, Russia and France.

A growing number of countries, including Australia and Norway, are seeking to step up defense cooperation, which would strengthen South Korea’s ability to counter North Korea’s threats while contributing to peace and stability in the international community, said Yoon.

“Some say there may be a vacuum in our military power due to defense exports as part of their political offensive, but the government will maintain a thorough military readiness while actively supporting those exports,” Yoon said.

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