Three leaders of the West Virginia State Senate will head to Taipei, Taiwan, later this week to explore possible business opportunities there.
Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, Senate Finance Chairman Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, and Economic Development Chairman Bob Williams, D-Taylor are leaving this Thursday for a weeklong trip to the Far East nation, officially known as the Republic of China.
"About every three or four years they invite a contingent of various state officials to visit their country for various economic development opportunities," Kessler said.
Lawmakers from Delaware and Maryland will join Kessler, Prezioso and Williams on the trip, which is fully sponsored by the Taiwanese government.
Kessler said West Virginia lawmakers have made similar trips before -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin visited Taiwan during his tenure as Senate President -- and leaders in Taipei have asked for several years for West Virginia's legislative leaders to return.
"We decided this year... we probably ought to take them up on it," he said.
Kessler said he hopes to find new export opportunities for West Virginia's coal, oil and gas products -- he is supposed to meet with CPC Corp., the country's largest energy provider -- as well as the state's timber industry. West Virginia's delegation also is scheduled to meet with Taiwan-based furniture manufacturers.
"They apparently have a great need for timber and hardwoods," Kessler said. "It might be a golden opportunity."