On the morning of July 12, President Tsai Ing-wen met with Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes at the Presidential Office Building, where the two leaders jointly witnessed the signing of bilateral agreements and expressed hope that their countries can continue to enhance cooperation and improve the well-being of their respective peoples.
In remarks, President Tsai said that when she led a delegation to Paraguay in 2016 the warm hospitality that they received from the government and people made her keenly aware of President Cartes' staunch support for Taiwan. In particular, President Cartes once told her: "Your country is bigger than you imagine." That statement made a deep impression on her, and is well-known throughout Taiwan, she said.
President Tsai stated that Paraguay is a good friend that has always spoken out in support of Taiwan, either by delivering formal speeches or sending letters of protest when Taiwan receives unfair treatment on the international stage. President Cartes' current visit to Taiwan gave her a chance to express her heartfelt gratitude for that support.
President Tsai pointed out that a lot of change and growth has occurred in Paraguay over the past few years under President Cartes’ leadership, and that she often sees positive comments on social media about good things that President Cartes has done such as building highways and social housing, and expanding external trade. In these and other ways, Paraguay is working to build up its national infrastructure and pursue economic growth, and the whole world is well aware of such efforts. Thanks to the hard work of President Cartes, Paraguay is an emerging country in the international community, and universally recognized for its tremendous potential.
President Tsai noted that Paraguayan Minister of Industry and Commerce Gustavo Leite arrived in Taiwan a few days before the rest of the delegation to visit companies and other entities, looking for two-way investment opportunities. So it is clear that for Paraguay, industrial development is important. Taiwan is currently promoting its "5+2 industrial innovation program" and would very much like to identify opportunities for further cooperation in such areas as green energy, new agriculture, and the circular economy.
President Tsai pointed out that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Paraguay. During these past 60 years, the two countries have maintained close ties and had very successful exchanges in such areas as economics and trade, as well as industry. The value of a 60-year friendship cannot be taken lightly. Building upon the successes of the past, she said, we are now actively promoting cooperation projects guided by the principle of "steadfast diplomacy and mutual assistance for mutual benefits," and we sincerely hope we can act as gateways for each other while operating in the Asian, Asia Pacific, and Latin American markets, thereby benefitting the enterprises and people in both countries.
President Tsai mentioned that during an address she delivered in June 2016 before the Paraguayan Congress, she announced that Taiwan would double the number of Paraguayan students that can come to Taiwan on scholarships to 28, and significantly increase the import quota for Paraguayan beef. Taiwan has already made good on those pledges. President Tsai also stressed that Taiwan is acting based on the principle of mutual assistance for mutual benefits, and expressed confidence that as long as the two countries work together, cooperative bilateral relations can get even better.
President Tsai also mentioned that before President Cartes left Paraguay for Taiwan, he signed an executive order granting holders of ordinary Taiwanese passports visa-free entry into Paraguay. She thanked him for that courtesy, and, acting in the spirit of mutual benefit, then announced that effective immediately the Republic of China would allow the holders of ordinary Paraguayan passports visa-free entry into Taiwan. This is an extremely important step to spur stronger bilateral economic, trade, and investment ties as well as increased exchanges.
President Tsai pointed out that later in the day, she and President Cartes would be witnessing the signing of an economic cooperation agreement and an agreement abolishing the requirement of re-verification for public documents from each other's country. The former agreement will completely re-energize bilateral economic, trade, and investment ties, while the latter will greatly simplify document legalization procedures. These measures, which are designed to be mutually beneficial and to provide greater convenience for people in both countries, will make Taiwan-Paraguay exchanges more convenient and frequent, and thus bring very real benefits to the people of Taiwan and Paraguay. This is our most important goal, she said, in implementing our policy of "steadfast diplomacy."
Following the conclusion of President Tsai's remarks, President Cartes delivered remarks of his own in which he stated that the development of friendly relations between Taiwan and Paraguay is based on respect for the common values of democracy, freedom, and human rights. The signing of multiple bilateral agreements has been of great historic significance to both countries, and President Cartes expressed confidence that the agreements would add increased impetus for enhanced bilateral economic and trade exchanges. In addition to opening up markets in Taiwan, the agreements can also bring about effective links between the industry chains of the two countries, and will be very helpful to bilateral business ties. Moreover, the agreements on visa-free entry and elimination of the requirement of re-verification for public documents, he said, will certainly bring big improvements for business and tourism ties.
President Cartes praised Taiwan for its contributions to international organizations involved in medicine, health, international civil aviation, environmental protection, and culture. In the future, he said, Paraguay will continue, in line with the same position it has always taken, to help Taiwan join international organizations and participate in their activities.
Following the conclusion of the talks, the presidents of the two countries stood witness as Taiwan's Minister of Economic Affairs and Paraguay's Minister of Industry and Commerce signed an economic cooperation agreement. The two countries' ministers of foreign affairs then signed an agreement abolishing the requirement of re-verification for public documents from each other's country.
After the two countries' presidents witnessed the signing of the agreements, they strolled to the corridor outside the President's Hall to watch a welcoming performance by the Taipei City Indigenous Youth and Children Choir. With their high, clear voices and upbeat melodies, the performers conveyed a warm welcome to President Cartes and his delegation on behalf of all the people of Taiwan.
Next, President Tsai and President Cartes proceeded to the Presidential Office Building Post Office and attended a ceremony for the issuance of commemorative stamps marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Republic of China and the Republic of Paraguay.
Also included in the visiting delegation were President of the Supreme Court of Justice Luis Maria Benitez Riera, Senator Juan Dario Monges Espinola, Paraguayan Chamber of Senators ROC Friendship Committee Chairman Victor Alcides Bogado Gonzalez, Senator Zulma Ramona Gomez Caceres, and Foreign Minister Don Eladio Loizaga.