ANCHORAGE - Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski earlier this month signed a memorandum of understanding with high-ranking representatives of Taiwan's government to expand trade.
The governor says Taiwan is interested in possible development of large sub-bituminous coal deposits on the west side of Cook Inlet.
"This is an important step that will result in jobs for Alaska and much-needed energy for Taiwan," Murkowski said.
The agreement shows that Taiwan's industry believes high-moisture coal from Cook Inlet can be processed sufficiently to meet that nation's energy needs at a reasonable cost, along with providing a new market for an abundant Alaska natural resource, the governor said.
Murkowski said Taiwan's state energy utility, Taiwan Power Co., could use up to 4 million tons per year of processed Alaska coal. Other coal users, like China Steel and private companies like Formosa Plastics, could have significant additional requirements.
Taiwan President Chen Shui-Bien in a letter laid out the two-fold mission of the delegation of business and government leaders. Chen said the visit was to "finalize coal procurement, refine future energy cooperation and explore trade opportunities in other areas."
The governor, along with the Alaska Support Industry Alliance, also signed a second agreement with Taiwan that establishes a Taiwan-Alaska Trade and Investment Cooperation Council.
Alaska's representatives on the council will be Larry Houle, executive director of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance, and Alaska Attorney General Gregg Renkes.
Initially, the council will focus on the areas of energy, fisheries, tourism and agriculture. Each side will have two representatives - one from the private sector and another from the government - to serve as the council's co-chairs.