Paraguay president-elect committed to relationship with Taiwan

But ag sector wants China access for beef, soybeans
calendar icon 12 July 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Paraguay President-elect Santiago Pena said on Wednesday that he is committed to a relationship with Taiwan as he pitched investment opportunities he said should not be based on political or diplomatic considerations, Reuters reported.

Paraguay is the last South American country with formal relations with Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory. Honduras ended decades of ties in favour of Beijing this year and only 13 countries now recognise Taiwan.

Pena had pledged during his election campaign to maintain more than six decades of relations with Taiwan despite pressure from the Paraguay's agricultural sector, which wants to open up lucrative Chinese markets to soybeans and beef.

Meeting Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, Pena said that as president he would stick with Taipei.

"I reiterate my commitment, our commitment as Paraguayans, to stand by the people of Taiwan in the next five years," he said.

"I predict that the era that is starting now in our bilateral relationship, we are determined to take it to places we never even imagined before," Pena said.

"I will work for the next years to convey to the people of Taiwan, principally the businesses community, that investing in Paraguay is not only responding to diplomatic or political interests, but that it is to the mutual economic benefit of both nations."

Pena will take office on Aug. 15. Diplomatic sources have told Reuters that Taiwan's vice president, William Lai, might attend the inauguration, likely travelling via the United States to meet U.S. officials.

Lai is the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's candidate in Taiwan's presidential elections in January.

Pena met Lai before meeting Tsai, though Taiwan's presidential office did not mention whether Lai would attend the inauguration.

However, Pena extended an invitation to Tsai to visit Paraguay after she leaves office next year, drawing a large smile from her.

Tsai, having served two terms in office, is constitutionally barred from standing again.

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