U.S.-Taiwan Business Council hails U.S. arms sale decision

Washington, Sept. 25 (CNA) The U.S.-Taiwan Business Council on Tuesday welcomed Washington's announcement of a planned US$330 million arms sale to Taiwan, saying the proposed deal appears to move away from the previous "bundling" approach to arms sales to Taiwan.

It also urged new arms sales requests by Taiwan to be given an interagency assessment that does not consider China's potential reaction to a sale as a part of the equation.

The proposed sale announced Monday by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) covers standard spare parts and the repair and replacement of spare parts in support of Taiwan's F-16, C-130, F-5, Indigenous Defense Fighter and other aircraft systems.

The DSCA said it has delivered the required certifications notifying Congress of the proposed Taiwan arms sale.

The sale would be the second U.S. weapons agreement with Taiwan since U.S. President Donald Trump took office, after it agreed to a US$1.4 billion deal in June 2017.

In a statement issued Monday, the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council said it was encouraged by the congressional notification, which appears to move away from the previous "bundling" method for Taiwan arms sales.

"Notifying each sale when it is ready is a positive development, and indicates more potential activity at the end of this year and into early 2019. It is the approach the Council has advocated for since the original bundling began in 2008," the statement said.

The statement said real issues remain, however, with Taiwan's ability to procure the defensive systems it wants and needs.

Since 2011, U.S. arms sales have focused almost exclusively on sustaining and maintaining Taiwan's existing military capabilities, the council said.

But there has seemingly been no willingness by the U.S. to assess new capabilities for Taiwan, with requests for new systems apparently rejected or deterred prior to the initial stages of evaluation, it said in the statement.

Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers feels the Trump administration may be moving closer to a solution.

"The Trump Administration's stated policy is that Taiwan may submit a Letter of Request (LoR) for Pricing & Availability (P&A) data for any platform or system Taiwan feels they need to mount a credible defense, and it is entitled to receive a full assessment and timely response to their request by the full interagency review process," he said.

"This gets at the heart of normalizing the arms sales process."

New arms sales requests by Taiwan should be subject to an interagency assessment that includes the National Security Council, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of State, the Indo-Pacific Command, the American Institute in Taiwan, and other organizations, the council said.

All such requests should be evaluated on their merits only, with potential Chinese reactions to a sale not a part of the calculus, the council argued.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel