December 3, 2022

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Paraguay calls for Taiwan to invest $1bn to remain allies

2 min read

Paraguay’s president Mario Abdo Benítez has called on Taiwan to invest $1bn in his country to help him resist “enormous” pressure to switch diplomatic recognition to rival China.

Most of Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies are in Latin America and the Caribbean, but Beijing has been gradually prising them away with offers of aid, loans and trade. A switch by Paraguay, the largest country by area that still recognises Taiwan, would be a heavy blow to Taipei.

“We are working with the president of Taiwan . . . so that the Paraguayan people feel the real benefits of the strategic alliance,” Abdo told the Financial Times during a visit to the US.

“There is Taiwanese investment of more than $6bn in countries which don’t have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, we want from that $1bn to be put in Paraguay,” he said. “That will help us to build the argument about the importance of this strategic alliance with Taiwan.”

Taiwan’s foreign ministry said Abdo’s hope for $1bn in Taiwanese investment “would have profound significance for the Taiwan-Paraguay strategic partnership”.

“The government encourages Taiwanese businesses to visit the country and explore investment there,” the ministry said in emailed comments.

Paraguay’s ties with Taiwan have cost its soyabean producers access to the huge Chinese market © Jorge Adorno/Reuters

Panama, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua have dropped Taiwan in the past five years, alarming the US, which is keen to see Taipei keep its alliances in the region.

Paraguay is a major exporter of soyabeans and beef, but its relations with Taiwan, which Beijing claims as part of its territory, have cost it access to the vast Chinese market. This has upset the South American nation’s powerful farming lobby.

“Imagine what the [agricultural] producers say when meat prices fall and they don’t have access to China,” Abdo said. “They ask you: ‘Please, we have to open up to the Chinese…

2022-09-28 20:00:49

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