President Tsai Ing-wen and her accompanying delegation, who are currently in Central America on a trip codenamed the "Ing-Jie Project," met over breakfast at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 10 local time (10:00 p.m. on January 10 Taipei time) with the Nicaraguan Taiwanese Business Chamber (CETAINIC).
President Tsai first listened to a briefing by Director Gilberto Wong of CETAINIC on benefits generated by the Free Trade Agreement Between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Republic of Nicaragua. The president then delivered remarks, thanking CETAINIC for so generously giving her the opportunity to exchange views with everyone present.
President Tsai pointed out that when Taiwan and Nicaragua signed the free trade agreement in 2006, over 10 years ago, annual trade between the two countries stood at about US$47 million, of which Nicaraguan exports to Taiwan accounted for only about US$8.6 million.
Today, 10 years later, two-way trade has risen from US$47 million to about US$120 million, and Nicaraguan exports to Taiwan have grown by a factor of 10 to almost US$90 million. Nicaragua is the only diplomatic ally of Taiwan that enjoys a trade surplus with our country.
These figures show, said President Tsai, that the free trade agreement has boosted economic development for both countries, generated considerable profits, and brought about even closer ties between Taiwan and Nicaragua.
President Tsai said to the Nicaraguan business leaders that the pace of change in international economic conditions has accelerated in the 21st century, and the factors affecting the direction of change have become more numerous and complex. Even so, the president expressed confidence that economic and trade development in Taiwan and Nicaragua will continue forward and will even further accelerate.
President Tsai said that if cooperation in economic and trade is to yield further competitive advantage for Taiwan and Nicaragua, then the two countries will need to continuously innovate and optimize. With respect to production, for example, workflow procedures could be improved. As for markets, Taiwan and Nicaragua could each serve as a base for the other in their efforts to expand sales in Asia and Central America, respectively.
Noting that the economies of Taiwan and Nicaragua are highly complementary, President Tsai expressed hope that the two countries can take advantage of this situation, with Taiwan buying high-quality agricultural, fisheries, and livestock products from Nicaragua while Nicaragua imports business management technologies and processing equipment from Taiwan. In this way, the two countries could support each other while helping Nicaragua to achieve the objective of upgrading its industry.
President Tsai also urged the business leaders in her delegation to take advantage of their time in Nicaragua to identify good investment opportunities, thereby spurring additional progress in bilateral economic and trade ties.
President Tsai pointed out that all those present at the breakfast meeting were successful people active in many different fields of business in Nicaragua. In addition to expressing her sincere respect for them, the president also said she hoped that CETAINIC will continue to cooperate closely with Taiwanese firms so that, for their own sakes and for the good of their respective countries, bilateral commercial and trade ties can generate even greater economic well-being.
After the conclusion of the breakfast meeting with CETAINIC, President Tsai and her delegation toured factories operated by Formosa Textile (NICA), China United Nicaragua Corp., and Roo Hsing Garment (Nicaragua). The president received briefings at each factory to learn about their business and the investment experiences of Taiwanese firms in Nicaragua, and she toured production lines.
Nicaragua established Las Mercedes Industrial Park in 1991 as a state-run duty-free export processing zone to attract foreign investment, and the country also allows private-sector entities to establish export processing zones as well. Companies operating in these zones enjoy numerous tax incentives provided by the Nicaraguan government. Formosa Textile (NICA) and China United Nicaragua Corp. are operating at Las Mercedes, while Roo Hsing Garment (Nicaragua) has established its own duty-free processing plant.