Dec 15, 2006

Taiwan: Nicaraguan Congress Ratifies Free Trade Agreement

Nicaragua's Congress has unanimously ratified a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Taiwan on Wednesday, the legislative body said in a statement.

Below is an article published by the International Herald Tribune:

MANAGUA, Nicaragua: Nicaragua's Congress has ratified a free trade agreement with Taiwan, the legislative body said in a statement Thursday.

The agreement, reached in June, was approved 62-0 on Wednesday, the statement said. It lifts duties on Taiwanese beef, seafood, cheese, beans, nuts, fruits, cereals, cacao, cooking oils, rum, salt and ceramics, as well as Nicaraguan wood, textiles and furniture.

Last year, Nicaragua and Taiwan had more than US$20 million (€15 million) in trade.

Nicaragua is the third country in Central America to reach a free trade agreement with Taiwan, joining Guatemala and Panama.

President-elect Daniel Ortega, leader of the country's leftist Sandinista party, said during his campaign that he would likely reopen ties with the communist government in Beijing after he takes office on Jan. 10, leaving relations with Taiwan in doubt.

Nicaragua recognized Taiwan after the Sandinistas lost power in 1990, and the island has been a major development partner in the Central America nation, which relies heavily on foreign investment and donations.

China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949, and Beijing insists the island of 23 million people must return to the Chinese fold. China has repeatedly threatened war if self-governing, democratic Taiwan moves toward formal independence.

In an attempt to assert its sovereignty, Taiwan is always searching for diplomatic allies — even though China says the island has no right to develop bilateral relations or even join international organizations like the United Nations.