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U.S. arms sales to return to normal track: Taiwan official

ROC Central News Agency

2010/08/26 11:36:36

Washington, Aug. 25 (CNA) A senior Taiwan official posted in Washington expressed welcome Wednesday to the U.S. government's recent decision to allow U.S. companies to sell Taiwan defense articles and services directly without having to create "arms packages."

The U.S. Department of State confirmed Tuesday that it had notified Congress of its decision to allow U.S. companies to make commercial exports to Taiwan of defense services and articles to support and upgrade the island's existing air defense radar systems.

The latest sales, worth over US$100 million, will be carried out under a direct commercial sales (DCS) program between Taiwan and private U.S. companies, said the Taiwan official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"The new practice is poised to put U.S. arms sales to Taiwan back on their normal track," the official said.

He attributed the adoption of the DCS -- for the sales of items to support Taiwan's air defense radar system and improve existing radar used in the Ching-kuo indigenous defense fighter aircraft -- mainly to the fact that Taiwan's Air Force "is already familiar with the systems."

The U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, which groups U.S. companies with interests in Taiwan, also said Tuesday that it believes the latest State Department decision will contribute to returning U.S. arms sales to Taiwan to normal.

In the past, the United States usually sold arms to Taiwan under a more time-consuming Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system, with the U.S. government supervising bidding, production and delivery of the defense articles, services and technological data.

Under the FMS system, the U.S. government is responsible for enforcing the sales contracts. The model operates as if it is the U.S. government procuring the items from private contractors and reselling them to the foreign customer. The FMS system is more costly for the procuring countries because they have to pay the U.S. government's administrative bill, but the deal is less risky and offers greater guarantee of success.

The Taiwan official also attributed the U.S. decision to the fact that "package" sales and relevant announcements tend to make the matter "too high-profile, " triggering political implications.

(By Zep Hu and Deborah Kuo)

ENDITEM/bc



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