Sun, Jul 15, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Guatemalan businesses hope for refinery project

`MISTAKE' The president of the Guatemalan business association said that he believed Costa Rica's decision last month to break its relations with Taiwan was wrong

STAFF WRITER , WITH AGENCIES

Guatemala's business association on Friday said it supported the country's ties with Taipei and hoped the plans of a Taiwanese company to help build an oil refinery in Guatemala would come to fruition.

Carlos Zuniga, president of the Guatemalan business association, said he believed relations with Taiwan would not stop Guatemala from making some inroads into the Chinese market, which he acknowledged was "much larger in terms of population."

Zuniga said he believed Costa Rica's decision last month to break its relations of more than 60 years with Taiwan in favor of China was a "mistake," adding that Taiwan had remained a "friend" of Guatemala's even through the most difficult times.

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) said on Thursday in Guatemala that Taiwan's petrochemical conglomerate Formosa Plastics Group had expressed interest in helping build an oil refinery in the country.

She said that the company would soon be sending its own delegation to Guatemala to evaluate the feasibility of such a project.

Zuniga said he hoped the company would follow through on the idea, though the company has not officially said it will invest in the project.

"I don't know anything about it, so I cannot comment," a spokesman said on Friday.

Lu returned home early yesterday from a three-nation Latin American tour.

Lu's trip took her to the Dominican Republic, Paraguay and Guatemala, with transit stops in Panama and the US cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Lu told reporters upon her arrival at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport that she had received the highest level of courtesy from the nation's diplomatic allies and a warm welcome from their people and journalists, and from Taiwanese expatriates.

Lu said that the visit provided her with the opportunity to have in-depth discussions with the leaders of the countries, an experience she called meaningful.

Lu said she was given reassurances from Dominican President Leonel Fernandez, Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte Frutos, Guatemalan President Oscar Berger Perdomo and Panamanian Vice President Samuel Lewis Navarro that their countries' relations with Taipei were stable.

The leaders also promised to offer their support for Taiwan in the international arena whenever necessary, she said.

Lu said that while in the Dominican Republic and Paraguay, she toured industrial parks established with aid from Taiwan, and discussed with Guatemalan leaders a cooperation project to set up an international trade zone there.

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