Taipei to sign trade pacts with two allies

ENCOURAGING STATISTICS: Taiwan is about to ink free-trade agreements with Honduras and El Salvador, two states with which it had trade surpluses last year

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Sun, May 06, 2007 - Page 3

Taipei will sign free trade agreements (FTA) with El Salvador and Honduras tomorrow, making it the first multilateral FTA between Taiwan and its trade partners.

Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) departed late yesterday for El Salvador to sign the agreement with his Salvadoran and Honduran counterparts.

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

Chen said the agreement is expected to come into effect next January at the earliest, adding it was a positive development that would help boost trade relations between the three countries.

Taiwan began FTA negotiations with the two Central American countries in May last year and concluded the talks at the end of November.

Taiwan has already signed FTAs with Panama, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

Ministry of Economic Affairs statistics showed that bilateral trade between Taiwan and El Salvador was valued at US$80.48 million last year.

Taiwan enjoyed a trade surplus of US$62.5 million.

The value of Taiwan-Honduras trade amounted to US$50.16 million last year.

In that relationship, Taiwan enjoyed a surplus of US$21.43 million.

After the Taiwan-El Salvador-Honduras FTA comes into force, El Salvador will reduce its tariffs for 439 agricultural products and 3,151 industrial products from Taiwan, while Honduras will cut its tariffs for 430 agricultural products and 3,451 industrial products from Taiwan, ministry officials said.