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By Giff Johnson

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, Sept. 24) – Taiwan will soon become a major contributor to a Marshall Islands government trust fund that has just been established with the support of the United States.

Taiwan is expected to contribute more than $40 million over a 20-year period, said Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Gerald Zackios yesterday.

The trust fund was established in May as part of a Compact of Free Association with the United States. The Marshall Islands invested $25 million to launch the fund, while the U.S. made an initial deposit of $7 million in May, and will increase its contribution by $500,000 every year through 2023.

Zackios said the Taiwan government has agreed to provide $1 million annually until 2009, and then increase the amount to $2.4 million annually through 2023.

Zackios said a trust fund agreement between the Marshall Islands and Taiwan governments is in the final stages of being finalized.

Taiwan and the Marshall Islands have had diplomatic ties since 1998.

The trust fund’s goal is to provide funds for the government of this central Pacific nation to replace U.S. grant funding when the Compact ends in 2023.

But Marshall Islands officials are concerned that the slow start-up of the fund may mean there will not be an adequate amount of funding in 2023. Since the Marshall Islands and U.S. governments invested their combined $32 million in May, the funds have been in a money market account at the Wacovia Bank earning just two percent interest.

September 24, 2004

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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