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Taiwan says it has tightened export controls after report of Russian arms use

02/02/2024 11:09 PM
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Unsplash image for illustrative purpose only
Unsplash image for illustrative purpose only

Taipei, Feb. 2 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) said on Friday it has tightened controls on machine tool exports to prevent their use by Russia in its war against Ukraine, after the Washington Post reported a few Taiwanese companies had sold US$20 million of equipment which ended up in the hands of Russian arms makers.

The ministry's response came after the Washington Post reported on Thursday that since January 2023, Russian company I Machine Technology has imported over US$20 million of sophisticated equipment called CNC machine tools. The tools are made in Taiwan, including by a similarly named Taiwanese trading company called I Machine Tools.

The computer-controlled machines are used for complex and precise manufacturing that is critical to many industries, including weapons production, The Post reported.

The ministry said the measures it has adopted to prevent similar reoccurrences included placing I Machine Technology, which is accused of re-directing Taiwanese-made precision equipment to Russian arms makers, on a blacklist last month.

The list has so far banned 1,900 entities from receiving such products from manufacturers, the ministry said.

According to the ministry, it has also requested Taiwanese manufacturers exporting to countries such as Turkey and United Arab Emirates, which are considered to have a high risk of reshipping the products, to agree not to redirect shipments to Russia and Belarus.

In addition, the penalty for first-time violations of exporting to Russia has been increased by over 15 times to NT$1 million (US$32,055), the MOEA said.

The Post said those shipments imported by I Machine Technology probably violated prohibitions Taiwan and the West imposed in January 2023 on the sale of technology to Russia, in response to the Ukraine war.

Both I Machine Technology and the Taiwan-based I Machine Tools have denied such accusations, stressing that the shipments involved only spare parts that were not subject to export controls, the report said.

According to The Post, the MOEA had declined to comment on whether the Taiwanese companies identified in its report had violated the export controls, but said in a statement that the Taiwanese government is planning to bar local companies from selling their goods to I Machine Technology out of concern they could be used for weapons production.

(By Liu Chien-ling and Lee Hsin-Yin)


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