Business council president pans arms firm

WRONG APPROACH: Rupert Hammond-Chambers said Taiwan should take advantage of its world-class private technology industries to improve its arms technology

By Charles Snyder  /  STAFF REPORTER IN WASHINGTON

Sun, Feb 24, 2008 - Page 3

US-Taiwan Business Council president Rupert Hammond-Chambers said the creation of the Taiwan Goal arms firm was not the way to go if Taiwan wants to play a role in the global security support industry.

Rather, Hammond-Chambers said on Friday, Taiwan should take advantage of its world-class private technology industries, whose expertise it can leverage to become a greater player in the world security equipment scene.

Hammond-Chambers made his comments during a presentation in Washington of a private report on the future of US-Taiwan relations at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) think tank.

"I question the proposition that Taiwan needs another quasi-state owned defense company," Hammond-Chambers told the Taipei Times after the presentation.

While the government has insisted that Taiwan Goal would be a privately controlled entity, reports have said that 45 percent of its capital came from the Ministry of National Defense and that the ministry could hold control of the board of directors.

"If Taiwan is to truly leverage its strength in the global defense support market, it has to be with private technology companies," Hammond-Chambers said.

Taiwan "has to get them involved in research and development and has to get them in partnerships with global technology companies" so that "they can change into global security companies," he said.

"Where Taiwan can gain the most is by energizing and leveraging the skills of its technology companies," Hammond-Chambers told the AEI presentation.

This would "truly begin to leverage some of Taiwan's strengths and create some very interesting security technologies that won't just be applicable to Taiwan, but will actually be relevant to the global security market," Hammond-Chambers said.

Hammond-Chambers also supported a proposal advanced at the AEI presentation by Mark Stokes of the Project 2049 Institute of a "Defense Procurement Agreement" between the US and Taiwan.

Such an agreement would be a "subset" of the current Government Procurement Agreement between the two countries, Stokes said.

Stokes, a specialist on Taiwan security, was a member along with Hammond-Chambers of the working group behind the report on future US-Taiwan relations.

"Taiwan industry should leverage the trends going on with the globalization of the defense industry," Stokes said.

Looking at other industries in the US defense supply chain, "Taiwan industries are by and large absent."

Stokes suggested a "work sharing arrangement" between the US and Taiwan.

This would include the Defense Procurement Agreement, which would allow "the Taiwan defense industry to participate in defense contracts on both sides of the Pacific Ocean," he said.