By Andrius Sytas
VILNIUS (Reuters) – Taiwan, the world’s biggest supplier of semiconductors, will invest more than 10 million euros ($9.98 million) towards chip production in Lithuania, the head of the Taiwanese representative office in Vilnius said on Monday.
Taiwan’s Industrial Technology and Research Institute will cooperate with Lithuania’s electronics manufacturer Teltonika to build semiconductor technology capabilities in the Baltic country, said Eric Huang, head of the representative office.
Over two dozen Taiwanese scholarships for Lithuanians will be offered for technical training, he added.
“This is not a transaction (in exchange of Lithuania allowing opening of the office)”, said Huang. “It is because Taiwan would like to work with Lithuania together to strengthen the resilience of our democratic supply chain in the face of coercion by autocracies”.
Lithuania allowed Taiwan to open a de-facto embassy in its country in November last year, angering China which views the democratically-governed island as its own territory.
Beijing subsequently downgraded diplomatic relations with Lithuania, curbed trade and pressured multinational companies to sever ties with the nation of 2.8 million people.
The European Union has launched a World Trade Organisation challenge over the trade curbs, supported by the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Taiwan.
Earlier this year, Taiwan launched a 200-million-euro equity investment fund and a 1-billion-euro loan facility for Lithuania and other central and eastern European countries.
The first equity investments totalling 10 million euros in Lithuanian would be completed by early next year, said Huang, adding that first loans amounting to 9 million euros should be dispersed by the end of this month.
Taiwan also granted import permits for Lithuanian diary, fish and egg products, and could allow imports of its beef by the end of the year.
Lithuania formally launched its own representation in Taiwan on Monday.
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(Reporting by Andrius Sytas, editing by Terje Solsvik and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)