The Government of Honduras announced on Friday its intentions to commence negotiations with China for a free trade agreement. This move follows the establishment of diplomatic relations between Honduras and China in March, subsequent to the cessation of its long-standing relationship with Taiwan.
"We are on the cusp of a new era, with the initiation of a free trade agreement negotiation process with China. This development promises to usher in an abundance of opportunities for our domestic products," announced Honduran Foreign Minister, Enrique Reina, at a recent press conference.
Coffee is set to be the first Honduran product to penetrate the Chinese market, responding to a previous request from the coffee sector. In addition, the Foreign Minister declared that other products such as shrimp, tobacco cigars, and beef are expected to follow suit shortly.
Reina noted that the relationship with China is not limited to commerce but extends to several sectors. "Our relationship with China opens up a broad spectrum of possibilities encompassing finance, infrastructure, energy, technology, science, education, and culture," he said.
In 2022, Honduran exports totaled US$6.102 billion, with US$129.8 million earmarked to Taiwan.
The shift in diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China in March was an unexpected move from Honduras, considering its more than 70-year alliance with Taiwan. This change occurred within a matter of hours and marked a significant milestone in the diplomatic tug-of-war between Beijing and Taipei that has been ongoing since their separation in 1949.
The "one China" principle stipulates that countries cannot maintain diplomatic relations with both China and Taiwan simultaneously. Traditionally, Central American countries, in line with Washington, have upheld diplomatic ties with Taiwan. However, only Guatemala and Belize continue to maintain these connections. Other nations, including Costa Rica (2007), Panama (2017), El Salvador (2018), and Nicaragua (2021) have transitioned their diplomatic allegiances to Beijing.
With Honduras' decision, the number of countries recognizing Taiwan has been reduced to 13 globally, including Paraguay, Haiti, and several small Caribbean and Pacific island nations.