Taiwan-U.S. Defense Business Forum focuses on Taiwan’s self-defense

Francis J. Wiercinski, former commander of the United States Army Pacific, at the Taiwan-United States Defense Business Forum (Photo courtesy of CNA, 2018.5.10)

Kaohsiung, May 10 (CNA) The inaugural Taiwan-United States Defense Business Forum took place Thursday in Kaohsiung, featuring local and international representatives in the defense industry in an attempt to come up with solutions to meet Taiwan’s challenges on its domestic shipbuilding, aerospace development and information security sectors.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of the event, Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said the forum is expected to further enhance cooperation between Taiwan and the U.S.

Shen said that the defense industry is one of the “five plus two” innovation-based industries initiative the government is promoting as indigenous aircraft, vessel and submarine programs are vital to achieve the goal of defense autonomy.

“To make this happen, the government has offered more subsidies to the defense industry to beef up local companies’ abilities,” Shen said.

He added that during the visit by foreign representatives to attend the forum, they also toured local aerospace, shipbuilding and cybersecurity companies to look for possible cooperation between local and international companies.

“This is helpful in creating a win-win situation for all,” he noted.

In his address, Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, a co-organizer of the event, said the forum is aimed at encouraging Taiwanese companies in the defense business to join the global defense supply chain.

“Taiwan obviously has strong experience in the global technology supply chain and there is a robust global defense supply chain, so there is no reason that Taiwan should not enjoy considerable success (in this area),” he said.

The one-day event was part of the annual U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference previously held every year in the U.S. since 2002, an annual platform for dialogue on Taiwan’s national security needs, weapons procurement and defense cooperation with the U.S.

Taiwan’s military proposed at the 2017 conference to meet twice a year, once in Taiwan and once in the U.S., so that American officials and businesses could come to Taiwan and learn about the local market.

The proposal was eventually accepted after the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council and the Taiwan Defense Industry Development Association (DIDA), a non-profit organization founded in July 2017, signed a memorandum of understanding on defense industry cooperation between the two sides.

The Kaohsiung conference attracted more than 300 local and international representatives from global weapons systems suppliers, including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Co. and British Aerospace.

(By Joseph Yeh)