Lee, Tsai cancel US trip
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Deputy Secretary-General Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) announced yesterday that a planned visit to the US by himself and former Mainland Affairs Council chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has been canceled. Lee and Tsai were originally to leave for Washington after the legislative elections. They had expected to meet officials of the US Department of State and exchange views with members of major US think tanks, including the Brookings Institute, on issues concerning changes in Taiwan's political landscape after the elections. Lee said the trip was canceled because he needs to deal with some post-elections party affairs and Tsai is ill. Lee said they will arrange a trip to the US some other time. Lee on Saturday offered to step down as DPP deputy secretary-general over the party's failure to achieve its goal of winning 100 legislative seats in the elections and together with its ally, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, gain a majority in the legislature.
Quality essential: COA head
Quality is everything in terms of the country's agricultural products being able to compete with those of other nations, Council of Agriculture (COA) Chairman Lee Chin-lung (李金龍) said yesterday. Lee was attending an award ceremony for the nation's premium dairy farms in Tainan County. He promised dairy farmers that the council will provide the needed assistance to ensure the quality of domestically produced milk. He also cited statistics to show that the impact of the nation's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2002 has not been as great as had originally been expected. Estimates in the first year after WTO entry predicted that agricultural losses would reach NT$24 billion (US$740.74 million) and the agricultural population would drop by 22,000. But in fact, agricultural losses only amounted to NT$1 billion, while the agricultural population actually increased by 3,000, Lee said. He stressed that quality is the most important factor in terms of agricultural products being able to compete internationally.
Marshall Islands leader visits
President Kessai Note of the Marshall Islands arrived in Taipei yesterday for a five-day visit on the invitation of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press release. Note first visited Taiwan in 2002 and attended Chen's inauguration in May. "President Note's third visit to Taiwan is a landmark in Taiwan-Marshall Islands relations and contains historical meaning," the ministry said. Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) held a banquet in honor of Note at the Hyatt Hotel in Taipei last night. Note and Chen are to discuss current international developments and cooperation projects between Taiwan and the Marshall Islands. Note will also meet senior government officials and travel to Taitung, according to the ministry.
Alaska coal deal signed
Taiwan formed a committee with Alaska on Monday to promote trade and investment, signing a contract for a coal deal. The Taiwan Alaska Trade, Investment and Cooperation Committee was initiated by the Taipei-based Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce, with the association's chairman, M.H. Huang, as well as Minister without Portfolio Lin Yi-fu (林義夫), as its co-chairmen along with Mike Barry, an Alaskan energy official.