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 NEWS

For immediate use March 16, 1998 -- No. 239

American corporations raise $885,000 for U.S.-Thai partnership

NEW YORK – Several major American corporations have pledged nearly $1 million to help strengthen education and training efforts in Thailand as part of an aid effort called American Corporations for Thailand (ACT).

John Imle, president of UNOCAL Corp., announced the program here Thursday (March 12) to visiting Thai Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai.

ACT is chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Thai Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun and managed by the Kenan Institute Asia, a nonprofit foundation linked to the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

UNOCAL, the American International Group, Chase Manhattan Bank and Raytheon Corp. pledged $885,000 to be used in Thailand for training and education over three years. The private-aid program is believed to be the first such effort by American companies to provide assistance overseas.

Imle said American companies’ contribution to the program demonstrates their commitment to Thailand and their confidence that it will emerge from its current crisis and resume strong growth.

"We are encouraging other companies to join us in this important effort," he told an audience of more than 200 U.S. business leaders at the Thursday meeting. Kissinger and Anand met with Prime Minister Chuan and U.S. business executives before the announcement.

Chuan said the contribution from American businesses was important because it demonstrated faith in the Thai economy, and because it focused on training and education -- keys to the country’s long-term prosperity.

"At present, extensive work is going into developing human resources through educational programs and retooling," Chuan said. Thailand "will do our best, but our best will not be good enough if our allies do not lend a helping hand."

Whenever possible, the money raised by ACT will be used to retrain people left unemployed by the downturn in the Thai economy. The Kenan Institute will manage the projects to build better links between training institutions and the private sector, and between Thai and American organizations. The money will help support Thai training and educational institutions that have been hit hard by the financial crisis.

The Kenan Institute Asia was developed by the Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise. KIAsia is funded by the United States and Thai governments, the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, UNC-Chapel Hill and private sector supporters including Citibank and J.P. Morgan.

In a separate program, Imle announced that UNOCAL, American International Group and other donors will support a program to help Thai and other students from Southeast Asia who are studying in the United States.

The U.S.-ASEAN Business Council will organize the program, the ASEAN Students Assistance Awards Program -- ASEAN is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The program will help provide college students from Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines with stipends to allow them to stay in school and finish their degrees. Participating schools have agreed to match corporate donations to that two-year program.

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Kenan Institute contact: Brian Christie, 202-289-6282

News Services contact: Laura J. Toler, 919-962-8589