Third E-Workshop, Second Session: Egypt and Pakistan

On 7 March 2018, the Center for Foreign Policy and Peace Research hosted the first session of the Third E-Workshop “Defense Industries in the 21st Century: A Comparative Analysis”.  In this session, we had two presentations. Associate Professor Zeinab Abul-Magd, Oberlin College and the American University at Cairo, presented the paper entitled: “Egypt’s Defense Industry: Dependency, Civilian Production, and Attempts at Autonomy”.  Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, Research Associate at School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, presented the paper entitled, “Pakistan-China Partnership: Filling the Procurement-Production Gap”


Egypt’s Defense Industry: Dependency, Civilian Production, and Attempts at Autonomy

Egypt’s defense industry has a long history in the past six decades that renders it the oldest and largest among the Arab states. It started to expand in the 1950s-60, and reached its peak in collaboration with Western manufacturers in the 1980s. However, it has been suffering from a problem of dependency on Western technology, especially the U.S., and limited R&D. This problem and other economic reasons led to massive defense conversion into civilian production in 1990s-2000s. For the past three decades, military factories have been too occupied with manufacturing for the civilian market for profit, and has produced traditional weapon systems that do not respond to current urgent needs to combat terrorism. But the last few years have witnessed a degree of change, especially after 2013 when a severe crisis with U.S. supply took place and a war on terrorist groups erupted. There are revived attempts at diversifying sources of supply outside U.S. firms and at autonomy through co-production with international manufacturers.


Pakistan-China Partnership: Filling the Procurement-Production Gap

Pakistan is one of the two key weapons manufacturing states of South Asia. Its defense industry boasts of producing diverse armament ranging from infantry equipment to fighter jets, main battle tanks, frigates, missile boats and nuclear weapons. It also claims to be in the business of weapons exports. While presenting a history of Pakistan’s defense industry my argument is that the country represents the case of a typical industrially under-developed state that is primarily dependent on foreign sources of supply for its major weapons procurement. Partly due to the reluctance of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to transfer technology and the lack of industrial synergy between the supplier and recipient, the capacity of indigenous remains limited to production of components that primarily use mechanical engineering processes. But also like a typical state with serious security concerns, Pakistan has managed to develop small islands of industrial excellence such as the nuclear program that do not necessarily reflect on the overall state of the national defense industry. A huge indigenous production infrastructure is located in the public sector that in itself reflects the deep civil-military divide in the country. It also means that the cost of production is relatively high, which is presented as low, due to the skewed method for cost calculation. The heavy costs are borne primarily due to prestige. However, in recent decades there seems to be a shift towards China. From an arms production perspective, this relationship is critical because it allows for Pakistan to offload development costs on China while claiming to co-develop and co-produce certain categories of major weapons systems. Pakistan defense industry would have little chance to sustain itself if it were not for the close linkage with China.