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Taiwan investment in Honduras reaches US$400 million: minister
【Economics】2007-08-24  15:28:54
Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Aug. 23 (CNA) Republic of China Minister of Economic Affairs Steve R.L. Chen said Thursday that total Taiwan investment in Honduras has reached nearly US$400 million so far, with five investment projects proceeding smoothly and two new ones under discussion.

The five ongoing Taiwan investment projects, including the development of a motel chain, a garment manufacturing plant, and a weaving and fabric processing factory, amount to about US$31.8 million, Chen said.

He noted that the five projects are being carried out under a program designed by the Democratic Progressive Party administration three years ago to encourage increased Taiwan investment in diplomatic allies in Central America.

As for the two investment projects currently under discussion, Chen said, Taiwan Power Co. has agreed to invest US$355 million to help build a hydraulic power plant in Honduras under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) formula, while a new steel mill will be built in the country at a cost of US$6.2 million.

The proposed Patuca-3 Hydroelectric Project -- to be built on the Patuca River, Honduras' longest and most important waterway -- is essential if the ever-increasing demand for electricity in Honduras is to be met, Chen said.

Commenting on a tentative agreement that President Chen Shui-bian and Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales reached under which Honduras will provide two plots of land free of charge to two Taiwan high-technology companies to set up plants on, Minister Chen said the plan has yet to mature.

Zelaya told President Chen the day before that he would invite Taiwan-based High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) -- a maker of mobile phones with touch panels -- and Elitegroup -- a manufacturer of PCs and computer peripherals -- to relocate part of their manufacturing operations to Honduras and would provide them with two pieces of land free of charge.

The two presidents jointly witnessed Wednesday the signing of a memorandum under which Taiwan will provide US$9 million, including a loan of US$5 million and a donation of US$4 million, in support of a computerization project to be implemented in middle schools and elementary schools across Honduras.

Under the project, 3,000 computer centers will be built in Honduran schools over three years. Over 1 million students are expected to benefit from the project, according to Vice Foreign Minister Hou Ching-shan, who is one of the officials accompanying President Chen on his current three-nation Central American trip.

President Chen and his 88-member entourage arrived in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa Tuesday for a four-day state visit. He is scheduled to head for El Salvador Friday for another three-day visit before traveling on to Nicaragua Aug. 26. He is set to wrap up his Central American visit Aug. 28 and head home via Alaska, arriving in Taipei Aug. 29. (By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Deborah Kuo) ENDITEM/Li

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