LatinNews Daily - 09 February 2024

In brief: Guatemala reaffirms ties with Taiwan

*Guatemala’s new government led by President Bernardo Arévalo has reaffirmed ties with Taiwan. Along with Belize, Guatemala is the only other country in Central America, previously a bastion of support for Taiwan, to maintain relations with Taipei, after Honduras became the latest country to make the switch to mainland China last year. A statement released yesterday following a meeting between deputy foreign minister, Julio Orozco, and Taiwan’s ambassador to Guatemala, Miguel Tsao, reaffirmed bilateral relations, which date back to 1933. It highlighted cooperation in infrastructure, agriculture, education, communications and information technology as well as Taiwan’s support for the small and medium-size business sector and assistance in security, transport, and public health, among other areas. The show of support for Taiwan follows speculation regarding Guatemala’s possible switch to Beijing, after Foreign Minister Carlos Ramiro Martínez told newswire Reuters earlier this week that Guatemala was considering reaching out to China to develop formal trade ties. However yesterday the same newswire cited Arévalo as saying in an interview that “We are not choosing… Diplomatic relations are with Taiwan and with the People’s Republic of China there are trade relations that will continue to develop”. On 6 February China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin appeared to cast doubt on this possibility, saying “the one-China principle [recognising Beijing’s sovereignty claim over Taiwan]…is…the fundamental prerequisite and political foundation for China to conduct cooperation with all countries including Guatemala.” Guatemala’s exports to Taiwan totalled US$112m in 2023, out of a total US$14.19bn while exports to China totalled US$81m.

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