Wed, May 09, 2007 - Page 11 News List

Taiwan signs FTA with Honduras and El Salvador

TRILATERAL Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen signed the agreement with Salvadoran and Honduran officials to trade goods like sugar and coffee for plastics

CNA AND AP , PANAMA CITY AND SAN SALVADOR

Taiwan established a free trade agreement (FTA) with El Salvador and Honduras in the Salvadoran capital of San Salvador on Monday, officials said.

The trilateral agreement was signed by Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆), Salvadoran Minister of Economy Yolanda de Gavidia and Honduran Minister of Industry and Commerce Lizzi Azcona, the officials said.

Salvadoran President Antonio Saca and Honduran President Manuel Zelaya also attended the signing ceremony.

If approved by the Central American nations' parliaments, the agreement signed on Monday would allow El Salvador and Honduras to export thousands of tonnes of tariff-free sugar, coffee, fruit and soaps to Taiwan, while the self-governing island would export plastics, vehicle parts and electronic accessories.

"This is the logic of the world. We cannot take a step back. The world is opening its borders," Saca said.

Meanwhile, Chen was quoted by Taiwanese officials as saying during the ceremony that the Taiwan-El Salvador-Honduras free trade agreement was the third FTA established between Taiwan and Central American nations, which he said illustrated Taiwan's desire to strengthen trade, economic and investment cooperation with the region.

Chen pledged that under the FTA framework, Taiwan would provide market research materials to assist the export of products from El Salvador and Honduras to Taiwan.

Taiwan has previously inked separate FTAs with Panama, Guatemala and Nicaragua and is in FTA negotiations with the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica.

After the Taiwan-El Salvador-Honduras FTA comes into force, 3,590 Taiwan products to El Salvador and 3,881 products to Honduras will enjoy tariff-free treatment.

In return, Taiwan will lift its tariffs on 5,688 Salvadoran products and 6,135 Honduran products.

Tallies from the Ministry of Economic Affairs showed that bilateral trade between Taiwan and El Salvador was valued at US$80.48 million last year, with Taiwan enjoying a trade surplus of US$62.5 million.

The value of Taiwan-Honduras trade amounted to US$50.16 million last year, with Taiwan enjoying a US$21.43 million trade surplus.

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