Huge investment in Vietnam may go down drain

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Nov 24, 2012 - Page 14

A Taiwanese businessman’s US$160 million investment in a cement factory in Vietnam may go down the drain because of a policy flip-flop by a local government.

Huang Chih-peng (黃志鵬), Taiwan’s representative to Vietnam, has written letters to Vietnamese officials, from Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Thi Doan on down, urging them to solve the dispute or face the prospect of Taiwanese businesses losing interest in investing in the country.

Chen Liang-chuan (陳兩傳), the founder of Taipei-based Lucky Cement Corp (幸福水泥), poured US$160 million into He Duong Cement Company in Ninh Binh in 2008 after being awarded the right by the local government to mine a 72-hectare limestone field for 49 years. The project was approved by Nguyen and related ministries.

However, just as the plant’s two new production lines with a total capacity of 4 million tonnes a year were set to begin trial runs, the local Ninh Binh government rejected He Duong’s request to begin exploiting the field, because it had designated the field part of the Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex before applying to UNESCO in September to have the complex recognized as a world heritage site.

Sources at Lucky Cement said Vietnamese authorities are trying to find another limestone mine to replace He Duong’s original field, but they worried that a new mine location would entail additional transportation costs.