CNA (via Asia Pulse) | 8 December 2004
Taiwan, Guatemala Begin FTA Talks
TAIPEI, Dec 8 Asia Pulse - Minister of Economic Affairs Ho Mei-yueh signed a free trade agreement (FTA) consultation framework Tuesday with her counterpart from Guatemala, Marcio Cuevas, and began their first meeting on FTA issues.
Ho said that both countries have planned to hold a round of consultations each month starting next February and to sign the FTA by the end of next June.
She noted that Guatemala is in a crucial geographic position in Central America and is one of the members of the Central American Common Market. The five nations of Central America — Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica — as well as the Caribbean nation of the Dominican Republic signed FTAs with the United States early this year.
After Taiwan signs the FTA with Guatemala, Taiwan manufacturers will be able to diversify and reach out toward globalization.
Guatemala could also use Taiwan’s geographic location to make inroads into the Asian market.
Guatemala is the largest economy in Central America with a gross domestic production totaling US$24.7 billion last year, accounting for one-third of Central American’s GDP. Two-way trade between Taiwan and Guatemala totaled US$92.1 million in 2003 and there are 41 Taiwan manufacturers in Guatemala. It is hoped that a FTA between Taiwan and the Central American nation will help Taiwan businessmen tap the Central American market.
Taiwan has signed an FTA with Panama and has concluded a second round of FTA talks with Nicaragua in San Francisco. It is expected that an FTA can be signed with Nicaragua by April or May next year.
Taiwan has also established a FTA consultation framework with Paraguay, although both sides have yet to start substantive talks.
It expects to begin a FTA consultation framework talks with Honduras early next year.