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Taiwan currently provides US$7.9 million a year

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, March 9, 2008) – Marshall Islands President Litokwa Tomeing, who prior to his January election called for switching his country’s diplomatic recognition to China, will make his first state visit to Taiwan on Monday.

He is expected to ask Taiwan to increase its economic aid programme to the Marshalls.

Taiwan currently provides NZ$10 million [US$7.9 million] annually in grants and budget support, supports agriculture and aquaculture development projects, sends specialized medical teams and dispatches medical doctors to local hospitals, and is contributing about NZ$2.5 million annually to the government’s national trust fund.

The Marshall Islands faces an unemployment rate over 30 percent, skyrocketing health problems, including a diabetes epidemic that is estimated to affect more than 10 percent of the 53,000 islanders, and high public school drop out rates.

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