Honduras announced Friday that it will soon start negotiations for a free trade agreement with China, after establishing diplomatic relations with the Asian giant and breaking with Taiwan last March.
“We will also be starting soon […] a process of negotiations of a free trade agreement with China, which will also be good news and opportunities for the access of our products,” said the Honduran Foreign Minister, Enrique Reina, at a press conference.
He indicated that coffee will be the first Honduran product to enter the Chinese market.
“We had already received a request from the coffee sector that they wanted to export to China and had not been able to do so,” said Reina.
He announced that other products that will begin to be exported soon are shrimp, tobacco cigars and beef.
With China “we are opening a wide range of possibilities, not only in the commercial area”, but also in “finance, infrastructure, energy”, as well as “technology, science, education and culture”, said the minister.
Honduras’ exports amounted to US$6.102 billion in 2022, of which US$129.8 million to Taiwan.
Honduras surprised in March when it announced it was breaking diplomatic relations with Taiwan, a traditional partner of more than 70 years, and within hours signed ties with the Asian giant.
Latin America has been an important arena for the diplomatic tussle between Beijing and Taipei since they separated in 1949, following the triumph of the communist forces in the Chinese civil war.
Under the “one China” principle, Beijing does not allow any country to have diplomatic ties with them and Taiwan at the same time.
Aligned with Washington, all Central American countries remained for decades linked to Taiwan, but now only Guatemala and Belize maintain ties with the island.
Costa Rica (in 2007), Panama (2017), El Salvador (2018) and Nicaragua (2021) broke with Taiwan and tied themselves to Beijing, which has been seeking for many years to get Taipei’s diplomatic allies to switch sides.
Following Honduras’ decision, only 13 countries in the world recognize Taiwan, including Paraguay, Haiti and seven other small Caribbean and Pacific island nations.