Taiwan and Haiti are expected to sign an agreement by the end of this year for the construction of a power grid in Port-au-Prince to alleviate the Caribbean nation’s energy supply problems, a high-level government official said.
It would be Taiwan’s first official development assistance (ODA) loan to a diplomatic ally, the official said on condition of anonymity.
The project, which would reportedly cost NT$4.5 billion (US$146.98 million), is one of the initiatives being discussed by a bilateral high-level task force that was established to draft new terms of cooperation in accordance with a consensus reached between President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Haitian President Jovenel Moise during his visit to Taiwan in May.
The project includes the construction and renovation of substations and transmission towers, as well as the provision of maintenance training to local personnel, the official said.
“The project is to be executed in the form of an ODA, under which a Taiwanese bank would provide a commercial loan to the Haitian government and the project would be contracted to a Taiwanese construction firm,” the official said, adding that the project is expected to take at least two years to complete, based on reconnaissance trips.
Both sides are keen to finalize negotiations on the project as soon as possible, as improving Haiti’s power supply was one of Moise’s key campaign promises, the official said.
Amid China’s growing efforts to poach Taiwan’s diplomatic allies — luring four in the past two years — the official said that the government is hoping to demonstrate to the leaders of its allies that “we are as good as our word” by quickly starting work on the project.
The government has warned its allies against Beijing’s pledges of large sums of monetary aid, which it said do not always materialize.
It is considering facilitating trade through a public-private partnership model to better consolidate its relations with diplomatic allies, rather than simply encouraging local businesses to invest in the nation’s allies, the official said.
“Our existing cooperative schemes with our diplomatic allies are mostly designed to improve the well-being of their people, but we are now also seeking to strengthen our trade relations by bringing the public and private sectors together,” the official said, adding that targeted sectors might include the industrial, agricultural and infrastructure sectors.