Kaohsiung, May 25 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Friday he hopes the Port of Kaohsiung can work toward becoming Taiwan's first showcase free economic zone to help drive the country's economic growth.
Speaking at the groundbreaking of the second phase of the port's International Container Terminal, Ma said the proposed showcase free zone will comprise the existing Kaohsiung Free Trade Zone, export processing zones and industrial parks in the southern Taiwan city.
The government plans to invest NT$28.11 billion in the NT$90.6 billion project for the terminal's second phase, according to Taiwan International Ports Corp., which operates the Kaohsiung port.
The second phase of the terminal, which will create 19 new deepwater berths, is scheduled to be completed in 2019, the company said.
Ma said petrochemical companies in the area planning to relocate should consider moving instead to the container terminal, since 10 of the new berths will be used for a petrochemical distribution center in the terminal.
Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo also said that under the project, land will be allocated for the relocation of petrochemical companies in the old port area.
However, Chu Shao-hua, chairman of the state-owned oil refiner CPC Corp., Taiwan, said the company will move only its oil tank in the old port area and has no plans to establish a new petrochemical plant at the Kaohsiung terminal when its naphtha cracker complex shuts down in 2015.
The government confirmed May 14 that a controversial project intended to replace the production of CPC Corp.'s complex in Kaohsiung would be relocated to Malaysia.
The Kuogang project, partly invested by CPC Corp., was proposed in 2005 and was scheduled to be built in a wetlands area in central Taiwan'sChanghua County, but it was scrapped last year because of stiff oppositionfrom local residents and environmentalists.
(By Chang Che-fon and Kay Liu)