Sun, May 15, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Paraguayan ambassador hails Taiwan's friendship

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Paraguay has enjoyed "fraternal and loyal friendship" with Taiwan over the past five decades and both countries have carried out various projects in different fields, Paraguay's ambassador to Taiwan Ramon Diaz Pereira said in a message delivered for his country's 194th independence anniversary.

Paraguay, which became independent from Spain on May 15, 1811, has been a diplomatic ally of Taiwan for nearly 50 years, Diaz Pereira said while hosting an independence anniversary banquet in Taipei on Friday.

The ambassador said as a result of economic integration with its neighbors, which created the Common Market of the Southern Cone (MERCOSUR), Paraguay has gradually overcome its geographical limitations.

The formation of MERCOSUR, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay, turned the latter into a strategically important state because it is located in the heart of the common market, Diaz Pereira said.

People in Paraguay can reach the capital cities in the region, such as Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Sao Paulo, Santiago and La Paz by flights no longer than two hours, he added.

However, Paraguay's membership in MERCOSUR has hampered a much sought-after free trade agreement (FTA) between it and Taiwan, as Paraguay cannot sign a pact with a foreign country without the approval of its common market partners, government officials said.

Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay are not in favor of a Paraguay-Taiwan free trade pact because they maintain no diplomatic relations with Taipei. However, Paraguay and Taiwan will continue seeking ways to achieve closer economic and trade cooperation, diplomatic officials said.

His home country, said Diaz Pereira, is an ideal destination for foreign investors and tourists. Its people are "young and well-trained" and the nation's legal system protects foreign investments and capital, he said.

Paraguay also boasts "innumerable species of mammals and birds" in its mountainous areas and is rich in natural reserves, the ambassador said, adding that the country's forests, rivers, lagoons and "cordiality of the people" are its major tourist attractions.

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