ATTEMPT TO LAUNCH LOCAL GARMENT INDUSTRY IN MARSHALLS FAILS

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MAJURO, Marshall Islands (December 31, 1998 - Radio Australia)---The first attempt by the Marshall Islands to launch a garment industry has ended with the departure of 170 Chinese workers.

The workers, who were repatriated on Wednesday at the request of the foreign affairs ministry, were brought to the Marshall Islands in January by a company called Lanco Pacific, to launch operations at its garment factory.

But the foreign affairs ministry says the workers have been fending for themselves since their arrival, and have not been paid by Lanco for many months.

A spokesman says the ministry intervened after complaints from local residents that the workers were involved in illegal door-to-door selling.

Chinese officials met foreign ministry officials earlier this week to discuss future operations of the factory, which was completed in 1994 with a low interest two million dollar loan from the Chinese government.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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