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Senators look for West Virginia business opportunities in Taiwan

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A trade trip to Taipei, Taiwan will wrap up later this week for three members of the state Senate.

Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall), Senate Finance Chairman Roman Prezioso (D-Marion) and Senate Economic Development Chairman Bob Williams (D-Taylor) are there to start the week.

Kessler said the trip is focused on opportunities for West Virginia timber, coal, natural gas and agriculture.  “If you have an opportunity to open those (industries) to a significant market over in the that area, I think that can be beneficial and helpful,” said Kessler.

Officials with the West Virginia Development Office estimated West Virginia’s exports to Taiwan totaled more than $78 million in 2012 and the largest share of that, about $39 million, was for commodities.

Kessler said furniture manufacturers based in Taiwan are especially interested in hardwoods from the Mountain State.  “The timber industry in West Virginia is distressed,” he said.

A relationship between West Virginia and Taiwan was first formalized in 1980.

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin visited Taiwan when he served as Senate President and Kessler said leaders in Taiwan have been requesting a return visit from legislative leaders for several years now.

The Taiwanese government is funding the trip.

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