Experts Group Meeting, Taiwan

18-20 June, 2012 Taiwan

Project Alpha Presents at Export Control Experts Group Meeting, Taipei, Taiwan

In June 2012, representatives from Project Alpha attended and presented their research at a meeting of the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP) Export Control Experts Group (XCXG) in Taipei, Taiwan. The meeting was attended by representatives of most governments in the Asia-Pacific region. It provided Project Alpha representatives with the opportunity to share the outreach model which they have been pioneering in the United Kingdom.

CSCAP is an intergovernmental organisation with governments from 10 Asia-Pacific countries taking part. The XCXG is a specific study group which considers the role of strategic trade controls in preventing WMD proliferation. XCXG was set up to assess national export control systems; to  identify potential vulnerabilities and loopholes; and to seek to outline recommendations both for improving national capacities and exploiting opportunities for regional cooperation.

The workshop was organised jointly by CSIS-Pacific Forum and National Chengchi University in Taipei. It is part of a broader, ongoing series of workshops which brings together export control experts from the Asia Pacific region and beyond. These workshops are intended to allow practitioners and academics to share ideas and to improve strategic trade controls and their implementation.

The workshop sessions included those on recent export control developments in the Asia Pacific; legislation; UNSCR 1540; transhipment; and the role of regional organisations. Discussions considered how far states in the region have come since the discovery of the AQ Khan network and the passing of UNSCR1540. It also emphasised that there was still a way to go, especially in building a compliance culture within the private sector.

Rightfully, much of the workshop focused on legislation, the licensing process and enforcement capacity; these are areas on which many states in the Asia Pacific region are currently focussing. This allowed  Project Alpha to disseminate its ideas  relating to private sector engagement and, more specifically, Ian Stewart spoke about the role of the private sector in implementing sanctions regimes.

Holding the workshop in Taiwan was significant in a number of ways. First, Taiwan has had some issues with illicit trade in the past. Taiwanese industry has been targeted significantly by proliferators for machine tools, and Taiwanese transportation nodes have also been exploited by proliferators, Illicit shipments of sensitive goods have been transhipped through or re-exported via ports in the country.

However, holding the workshop in Taipei was also significant for another reason. Due to the unresolved situation regarding Taiwan’s sovereignty, there are limits as to the degree to which Taiwan can participate in intergovernmental initiatives. Although a member of the United Nations (UN) and UN Security Council permanent member until 1971 (when Taiwan was replaced by the People’s Republic of China), Taiwan’s participation in multilateral fora, and specifically the multilateral export control regimes, has been limited.

Conferences allowing for these issues to be explored in Taipei are certainly welcomed. They also present a valuable opportunity to discuss these issues with other states in the region where strategic trade controls are still evolving. The next meeting is due to be held in October in Manila, in the Philippines. Project Alpha will be attending again and this time Daniel Salisbury will be present research on Transhipment hubs.