Keeping important technologies under British (and Western in general) control

Yokel

LE
Most on here will know that the MOD keeps a list of companies that have the technical ability and security arrangements to do sensitive work. However these companies depend on subcontractors and suppliers of components.

The Government also publishes lists of sensitive technologies and countries they cannot be exported to. Many of these are dual use technologies.

Concern has been expressed over key suppliers and parts of our infrastructure fulling into the ownership of foreign companies, and being controlled by management with close connections to potentially hostile Governments.

Is Government able to produce a list of key capabilities that must be kept in the UK and under national control? I am thinking of defence, civil aerospace, civil marine, telecommunications, medical, and industrial machinery.

Could this protection extend to suppliers of things such as PCBs, electromagnetic components, semiconductors, waveguide components, GRP mouldings, fluid valves, hydraulic systems - to name but a few?
 
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Chef

LE
Think how much of the day to day infrastructure of the UK has been sold off, water, electricity, railways, airports, docks and most of the stuff on a Monopoly board.

The high tech, security sensitive stuff is probably already compromised on the altar of globalisation. Promises to maintain UK based products in the UK are usually broken before the ink's dry on the takeover documents, Kraft springs to mind.

Having said which the current Corvid-19 epidemic may give the government pause for thought. But possibly too little too late.

The national anthem of Ankh-Morpork is appropriate although it's being sung at the UK:

"When dragons belch and hippos flee
My thoughts, Ankh-Morpork, are of thee
Let others boast of martial dash
For we have boldly fought with cash

We own all your helmets, we own all your shoes
We own all your generals - touch us and you'll lose.


(We can rule you wholesale)
 

HE117

LE
Ownership is merely an accounting convention!

Possession is 9/10ths of the Law..


..only sayin!
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
My experience of duel-use items is that few persons have an inkling that their product could be used for nefarious (sp?) reasons.

I ran an investigation into a European car-parts manufacturer who had no idea that ball bearings (useful in car wheels but also used as shrapnel) shipped from Europe to Dubai (I presume for the famous car industry there) were going across the strait to Iran in the 2000's and I can only assume, straight over the border into Iraq and from there into the bodies of soldiers, men, women and children.

The company was mostly surprised that it was selling in Dubai but equally was surprised that ball bearings were duel use. Never underestimate institutional stupidity.

Wasn't Saddam trying to build a super-computer out of chain-linked Playstation's at one stage?
 

Yokel

LE
Ownership is merely an accounting convention!

Possession is 9/10ths of the Law..


..only sayin!
Does anybody know how much control the head office take in Chinese owned companies? Could they prevent a company from doing work for a Western government or pass the intellectual property back to HQ?

My experience of duel-use items is that few persons have an inkling that their product could be used for nefarious (sp?) reasons.

I ran an investigation into a European car-parts manufacturer who had no idea that ball bearings (useful in car wheels but also used as shrapnel) shipped from Europe to Dubai (I presume for the famous car industry there) were going across the strait to Iran in the 2000's and I can only assume, straight over the border into Iraq and from there into the bodies of soldiers, men, women and children.

The company was mostly surprised that it was selling in Dubai but equally was surprised that ball bearings were duel use. Never underestimate institutional stupidity.

Wasn't Saddam trying to build a super-computer out of chain-linked Playstation's at one stage?
I remember sitting in my local library and looking at a guide for exporters and for many countries there was a list of things never to be sold to them or to be sold only after consulting the export control people. Often there were technical specifications such as frequency or bandwidth.

Sheffield Forgemasters built sections of what they though was ultra precise pipelines for an Iraqi petrochemical project.
 

HE117

LE
My experience of duel-use items is that few persons have an inkling that their product could be used for nefarious (sp?) reasons.

I ran an investigation into a European car-parts manufacturer who had no idea that ball bearings (useful in car wheels but also used as shrapnel) shipped from Europe to Dubai (I presume for the famous car industry there) were going across the strait to Iran in the 2000's and I can only assume, straight over the border into Iraq and from there into the bodies of soldiers, men, women and children.

The company was mostly surprised that it was selling in Dubai but equally was surprised that ball bearings were duel use. Never underestimate institutional stupidity.

Wasn't Saddam trying to build a super-computer out of chain-linked Playstation's at one stage?
Almost anything could be classified as "dual use", and in reality such concepts are simply a fig leaf for playing a wide range of political and economic games...!

Ball bearings are an almost universal engineering component, and are used in everything from space craft to skateboards. Just because the US decided to make a propaganda issue out of their bombing of some engineering factories in Schweinfurt as "choking off the Nazi ball bearing supply" you should not consider this to be any indicator of reality. Frankly you could use gravel or nails in a bomb to increase the fragmentation...

Export controls lay a huge cost in terms of the export industry both in effort, delay and lack of competitiveness. A mate of mine who used to manufacture in the defence sector told me it commonly took over a year to process an export licence,

Considering the number of French missiles that were dug out of Saddam's bunkers, I think that most weapon sanctions do more to damage the capability of the instigator rather than the intended victim...!
 
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My experience of duel-use items is that few persons have an inkling that their product could be used for nefarious (sp?) reasons.

I ran an investigation into a European car-parts manufacturer who had no idea that ball bearings (useful in car wheels but also used as shrapnel) shipped from Europe to Dubai (I presume for the famous car industry there) were going across the strait to Iran in the 2000's and I can only assume, straight over the border into Iraq and from there into the bodies of soldiers, men, women and children.

The company was mostly surprised that it was selling in Dubai but equally was surprised that ball bearings were duel use. Never underestimate institutional stupidity.

Wasn't Saddam trying to build a super-computer out of chain-linked Playstation's at one stage?



In November 2010 the Air Force Research Laboratory created a powerful supercomputer, nicknamed the "Condor Cluster," by connecting together 1,760 Sony PS3s which include 168 separate graphical processing units and 84 coordinating servers in a parallel array capable of performing 500 trillion floating-point operations per second (500 TFLOPS).[21] As built the Condor Cluster was the 33rd largest supercomputer in the world and would be used to analyse high definition satellite imagery.[
a few have been built
 
My experience of duel-use items is that few persons have an inkling that their product could be used for nefarious (sp?) reasons.

I ran an investigation into a European car-parts manufacturer who had no idea that ball bearings (useful in car wheels but also used as shrapnel) shipped from Europe to Dubai (I presume for the famous car industry there) were going across the strait to Iran in the 2000's and I can only assume, straight over the border into Iraq and from there into the bodies of soldiers, men, women and children.

The company was mostly surprised that it was selling in Dubai but equally was surprised that ball bearings were duel use. Never underestimate institutional stupidity.

Wasn't Saddam trying to build a super-computer out of chain-linked Playstation's at one stage?
Quite, Playstation 3's came in handy just needed an array of them and you had an ultra cheap supercomputer, don't know about Sadam but the yanks made use of them at least

Thought I read somewhere about Jihad's using them for missile guidance, maybe Saddam tried the same thing?
 

Yokel

LE
Indeed many things could be used for a multitude of purposes - such as machine tools (see the Matrix Churchill affair). Sometimes specifications and environmental limits should gave the game way.

However, the way intended themes of this thread are:

1. How do we ensure the integrity of the supply chain for critical and sensitive industries?

2. How can we stop management of foreign owned companies from stopping them from being part of a crisis response?

3. How do we protect Intellectual Property?
 

HE117

LE
Quite, Playstation 3's came in handy just needed an array of them and you had an ultra cheap supercomputer, don't know about Sadam but the yanks made use of them at least

Thought I read somewhere about Jihad's using them for missile guidance, maybe Saddam tried the same thing?
You what...?

... have you seen an array? Have you tried to program one? I have... it is the logical equivalent of connecting hundreds of pen cells together to produce lightning.. yes it is possible, but not really practical!

You can get arrays to process certain classes of high calculation load tasks, but to get one to behave in a complex, time dependent task such as missile guidance would be a very good trick.. also where exactly are you going to put the piles of play stations in a missile?
 

HE117

LE
Indeed many things could be used for a multitude of purposes - such as machine tools (see the Matrix Churchill affair). Sometimes specifications and environmental limits should gave the game way.

However, the way intended themes of this thread are:

1. How do we ensure the integrity of the supply chain for critical and sensitive industries?

2. How can we stop management of foreign owned companies from stopping them from being part of a crisis response?

3. How do we protect Intellectual Property?
Easy...

Make it profitable to manufacture stuff in UK and keep the capability onshore.
Stop loading local industries with a load of politically motivated restrictions with vague "ethical" purposes, that simply load extra costs and delays and achieve nothing in reality.
Make it easy to invest in UK.
Stop subsidising non economic welfare and arts based activities at a national and international level. Encourage manufacturing industry to subsidise these activities by giving tax breaks etc..
Dismantle the huge wedge of non productive, administrative activities associated with state owned bodies such as the NHS and DHSS.
Oh and restore Crown Immunity for the Armed Forces and Police. ( irrelevant to the issue, but needs done anyway!)

To address your specific points:

1. You obtain a reliable supply chain by have sufficient numbers of competent and working elements to be able to react and maintain capability. You cannot magic these up when you need them, they need to be there all the time!

2. As I pointed out previously, the fact that the ownership of an asset is foreign is neither here nor there.. It is the location of the assets, both plant, material and staff that is crucial. This is what you need to keep on shore, either by economic or fiscal inducements and controls.

3. You can't! Ideas have no bounds, and no country in history has ever managed to bottle one up for long. On the other hand, ideas in themselves make no difference.. it is the exploitation of the idea that brings the gains. You need to concentrate on exploiting good ideas locally, and the benefits will then stay local!

We REALLY need to get back to understanding that it is "making stuff" that benefits a community, and setting our sights accordingly...
 
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4(T)

LE
One thing I'd like to see in Britain post-Brexit/ post-virus is some sort of labelling code for goods and services that defines country of origin or manufacture, perhaps even by % base if necessary. The idea being that people can make informed choice about what they are buying or consuming.

Similarly, post-Brexit, as far as i understand, it'd now be legal to have a "Buy British" campaign all over again.
 
One thing I'd like to see in Britain post-Brexit/ post-virus is some sort of labelling code for goods and services that defines country of origin or manufacture, perhaps even by % base if necessary. The idea being that people can make informed choice about what they are buying or consuming.

Similarly, post-Brexit, as far as i understand, it'd now be legal to have a "Buy British" campaign all over again.
Its wasn't illegal to have one pre-Brexit either
 

HE117

LE
One thing I'd like to see in Britain post-Brexit/ post-virus is some sort of labelling code for goods and services that defines country of origin or manufacture, perhaps even by % base if necessary. The idea being that people can make informed choice about what they are buying or consuming.

Similarly, post-Brexit, as far as i understand, it'd now be legal to have a "Buy British" campaign all over again.
Whilst I agree with your sentiments, I want folk to buy British goods and services because they are the best, and to persuade the rest of the world to do the same..!

Goods become "good" because they are either high quality or value for money, ideally both! I'm not really bothered whether what we sell is heavy or light manufactured goods or intellectual services such as consultancy or education provided it fits the bill of "quality" and covers the cost of what we want to pay ourselves. We need to be much harder on people who produce rubbish! Reputation will make you a sale, but it is quality that will get you a repeat sale. For far too long, we have been trading on our reputation, and failing to deliver.

You cannot legislate for quality! The whole EU standards thing is a chimera! Bureaucratic administration of quality is the least economic way of producing quality goods, and is always eventually bypassed by people who do not play the game. The Market is the only determiner of quality, but the Market must be free to choose... government controlled procurement is anything but free and has largely caused the mess we are now in...

Add in political interference such as Climate Control and Health and Safety and is it any wonder we cannot compete.. We do need to address these issues, but society, both civil and industrial, needs to deal with it at the lowest level.. not allow governments to use them as an excuse for generating tax revenue...!

... basic Macro Economics!
 
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One thing I'd like to see in Britain post-Brexit/ post-virus is some sort of labelling code for goods and services that defines country of origin or manufacture, perhaps even by % base if necessary. The idea being that people can make informed choice about what they are buying or consuming.

Not hi-tech but, unfortunately, some high-end fishing reels are stamped "Made in Sweden" on the chrome frame. It's only when you open them up you find Chinese plastic components instead of brass or stainless, and most end users will never open them. The frame truly was made in Sweden and stamped as such as a selling point, then sent to China for component assembly, then to the UK for retail at the same price point as earlier originals. Similar with Volvo cars (not China though) and so on.
How on earth can this concept be policed?
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
Almost anything could be classified as "dual use", and in reality such concepts are simply a fig leaf for playing a wide range of political and economic games...!
This is both true and not quite true in my experience. Whilst countries move separately depending on their loyalty to the local Superpower, circumvention on the slow moving or more distant regimes is something else. Anything that is 'too absurd' will make its way through the latter.

Ball bearings are an almost universal engineering component, and are used in everything from space craft to skateboards. Just because the US decided to make a propaganda issue out of their bombing of some engineering factories in Schweinfurt as "choking off the Nazi ball bearing supply" you should not consider this to be any indicator of reality. Frankly you could use gravel or nails in a bomb to increase the fragmentation...
Yes, but the Iranians were using ball bearings shipped from Europe by a European company to their customer in Dubai via their Dubai subsidiary. This investigation was a Sanctions busting one and involved lots of lawyers and stuff. The end game was a rap on the knuckles which I thought was shockingly light but hey ho. My point however is that nobody that we interviewed really saw that their product was duel use or shipping lots of stuff to a near-war-zone was anything worth thinking about it. It's described in the text as a 'lack of controls'.

Export controls lay a huge cost in terms of the export industry both in effort, delay and lack of competitiveness. A mate of mine who used to manufacture in the defence sector told me it commonly took over a year to process an export licence,
Yup, plenty of reason to circumvent them.
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
One thing I'd like to see in Britain post-Brexit/ post-virus is some sort of labelling code for goods and services that defines country of origin or manufacture, perhaps even by % base if necessary. The idea being that people can make informed choice about what they are buying or consuming.

Not hi-tech but, unfortunately, some high-end fishing reels are stamped "Made in Sweden" on the chrome frame. It's only when you open them up you find Chinese plastic components instead of brass or stainless, and most end users will never open them. The frame truly was made in Sweden and stamped as such as a selling point, then sent to China for component assembly, then to the UK for retail at the same price point as earlier originals. Similar with Volvo cars (not China though) and so on.
How on earth can this concept be policed?
This is how Singapore makes a lot of its money, Free Trade Agreements everywhere and lots of re-badging of products or assembly of widgets allowing for tax benefits. The point I guess is that there is no policing it, on its own. Global supply chains and all that. I mean, my LR 110 has a Ford engine in it! I only realised this when I couldn't find any oil leaking...
 
My experience of duel-use items is that few persons have an inkling that their product could be used for nefarious (sp?) reasons.

I ran an investigation into a European car-parts manufacturer who had no idea that ball bearings (useful in car wheels but also used as shrapnel) shipped from Europe to Dubai (I presume for the famous car industry there) were going across the strait to Iran in the 2000's and I can only assume, straight over the border into Iraq and from there into the bodies of soldiers, men, women and children.

The company was mostly surprised that it was selling in Dubai but equally was surprised that ball bearings were duel use. Never underestimate institutional stupidity.

(...)
Iran have a fairly substantial motor vehicle manufacturing industry, roughly the size of Italy's in terms of finished vehicles. I don't see why Iran importing large numbers of ball bearings for vehicle production would in any way be considered unusual.

Loads of stuff going to countries around the Persian Gulf goes through Dubai because Dubai are the local equivalent of Rotterdam or Singapore. Jebel Ali is the biggest and busiest port in the Middle East.

Anyone telling you that selling lots of ball bearings to Iran and shipping them through Dubai was in any way unusual or abnormal was selling you a line.
 

Mr Happy

LE
Moderator
as I recall, Iran's auto industry exists because cars, parts and components are on the "do not sell to Iran" list, which is, I think, my point...
 
as I recall, Iran's auto industry exists because cars, parts and components are on the "do not sell to Iran" list, which is, I think, my point...
No, Iran's motor vehicle industry was established under the Shah and exists because of very high import tariffs.
 

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