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Cablegate: Training Customs to Take Over Export Monitoring

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Summary: The Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO)
announced in early 2004 their desire to abolish the Export
Management System (EMS) and transfer those responsibilities
to the Department of Customs in an effort to shift funds to
more urgent intellectual property protection priorities.
TIPO and Department of Customs held a training session for
Taipei area Customs managers on December 15, 2004 in
preparation for the assumption of EMS responsibilities by
Taiwan Customs. Taiwan plans to shift EMS's USD 1 million
annual budget to support expansion of the Integrated
Enforcement Task Force (IETF) and a cybercrime unit.
Industry's reaction to both the abolishment of the EMS and to
the training was mixed, with Business Software Alliance (BSA)
representatives generally pleased but Entertainment Software
Association (ESA) representatives still concerned that Taiwan
Customs lack the experience and determination to prevent
export of counterfeit computer hardware. End Summary.

2. Taiwan introduced the Export Monitoring System (EMS) in
1992 under U.S. pressure in an effort to prevent export of
counterfeit software and hardware. The Institute for
Information Industries (III) was tasked with establishing a
Software Verification and Inspection Center (SVIC). Firms
register their products with SVIC, which then conducts
inspections on exported goods in an attempt to identify
counterfeit products. Since 2001, SVIC has identified one
case of a counterfeit product being exported. Given the
absence of cases over the past three years, TIPO believes
that the EMS USD 1 million budget can be put to better use in
the protection of intellectual property and has proposed
terminating the EMS program.

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3. According to the TIPO proposal, the EMS program
responsibilities would be transferred to the Taiwan Customs
office. In order to prepare Customs to assume this
additional responsibility, TIPO conducted training seminars
for Customs managers in Kaohsiung, Taichung, and most
recently at the Chiang Kai Shek Airport in Taoyuan in
November and December. The Taoyuan seminar was attended by
approximately 20 senior level Customs managers, as well as
representatives from industry associations and AIT. TIPO
Deputy Director General Jack Lu, SVIC's Pan Shih-ming, BSA's
Gina Tsai, and Taiwan Customs Lin Ling-hui discussed the
history of the EMS, methods of detecting counterfeit hardware
and software, and procedures rightsholders can use to
initiate inspections.

4. Following the presentations, participants went to the
Taiwan Customs warehouse for a demonstration of Taiwan
Customs new procedures for inspection of suspicious exports.
Customs officials explained that exporting firms were
classified into three categories. Those companies with
established track records of export activity are exempt from
regular inspection of documents and commodities - this
comprises eighty five percent of shippers. Those with a less
established track record are normally exempt from commodity
inspection - these companies account for 10 percent of
shippers. Finally, those companies that are not established
shippers or have a history of violations are required to
undergo both document and commodity inspection - these
companies comprise about 5 percent of shippers. Taiwan
Customs also employs a random check procedure that could
target shipments from companies in any of these three

5. Representatives from BSA and ESA had different opinions
regarding the usefulness of the training. BSA agrees that
the EMS budget could be better spent to fund other
intellectual property protection activities. According to
BSA, the changes in software manufacture and distribution
since 1992 mean the EMS is no longer an effective mechanism
for combating counterfeit software products. Nevertheless,
BSA remains concerned that Taiwan Customs does not have the
experience nor the determination to provide an effective
deterrent to export of counterfeit goods. BSA is considering
cooperating with the Motion Picture Association (MPA) to
assign a representative from the industry associations to CKS
Airport to encourage and assist Taiwan Customs to focus on
counterfeit optical media exports. ESA shares these
concerns, and further does not believe Taiwan Customs
officials have been trained well enough to assume EMS's
duties, citing specifically the lack of operational level
staff at the training session at CKS Airport. ESA did not
participate as a speaker in the training sessions in November
and December. ESA also believes transferring authority for
inspection to Taiwan Customs may lead to less attention
granted to entertainment software and hardware exports. The
Taiwan ESA representative told AIT that Taiwan Customs is
reluctant to adopt technology currently used by SVIC to test
the authenticity of counterfeit hardware.

6. Comment: Taiwan has been actively promoting the
dissolution of the EMS, most recently at Trade and Investment
Framework Agreement discussions with USTR in Washington
November 29 and 30. With only one case over the past three
years, it appears the EMS, or at least its methodology, has
outlived its usefulness. Plans to use the EMS budget to
support expansion of the IETF and cybercrime operations are
encouraging. But TIPO and Taiwan Customs need to do a better
job of demonstrating to industry that continued concerns
about counterfeit exports are not going to be ignored. TIPO
and Taiwan Customs have announced plans to hold larger
training sessions for operational level Customs staff
beginning in January. Participation by ESA, BSA, MPA and
other associations as trainers would be helpful in addressing
some of the industry's legitimate concerns. End comment.

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