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President Tsai meets Paraguayan President-elect Mario Abdo Benítez and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales
President Tsai meets Paraguayan President-elect Mario Abdo Benítez and Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales

On the afternoon of August 14 local time (morning of August 15 Taipei time), President Tsai Ing-wen met with Paraguayan President-elect Mario Abdo Benítez. In the evening, she had a dinner meeting with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, who was in Paraguay to attend the presidential inauguration.

National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Tsai Ming-yen (蔡明彥) briefed the press later on about the substance of the two meetings.

During the afternoon meeting, President-elect Abdo stated that the diplomatic relationship between Taiwan and Paraguay over the past 60 years has been based primarily on shared democratic values, and promised that after taking office he will continue to promote friendship and cooperation with Taiwan. The president-elect also said he hopes to advance relations with Taiwan via cooperation in three areas.

The first area, Deputy Secretary-General Tsai explained, involves cooperation to invest in human resources and education. President-elect Abdo attaches considerable importance to Taiwan's development experience, and especially its investment in human resources and education. After taking office, he will continue to promote the Taiwan-Paraguay Polytechnic University (Universidad Politécnica Taiwán-Paraguay) cooperation project, and continue working to enhance bilateral cooperation in education.

The second area involves cooperation regarding public health and the health insurance system. President-elect Abdo mentioned that a pledge to improve the public health system had been a major plank of his election campaign, and that he therefore hopes to have an opportunity to draw on Taiwan's experience relating to public health and medicine, as well as its health insurance system.

The third area involves bilateral economic cooperation. President-elect Abdo explained to President Tsai that Paraguay's economy has grown at rate of at least 4% each year for the last 15 years, and it has an excellent economic and investment environment. He also expressed hope that Taiwan will regard Paraguay as an extension of its own territory, and that Taiwanese manufacturing firms will use Paraguay as a base of operations to enter South American markets. Hopefully, he said, the two countries can build a strategic economic, trade and investment relationship.

Deputy Secretary-General Tsai said that in her response, President Tsai stated that Taiwan will establish three national-level investment companies. She said these companies will integrate related technologies and funds to provide diplomatic allies with needed technical assistance relating to industrial, agricultural, and overseas infrastructure development. Working in line with Taiwan's program of Official Development Assistance, they will also provide diplomatic allies with low-interest funding to carry out necessary infrastructure development, she said.

President Tsai also mentioned that during this visit she has been deeply impressed by Paraguay's economic development potential, and believes that Paraguay—on the strength of its excellent economic climate and political leadership—will be able to establish a good basis for future cooperation with Taiwan.

Deputy Secretary-General Tsai also mentioned that the incoming heads of Paraguay's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Public Works and Communications, Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare, and Ministry of Housing and Habitat were among the Paraguayan officials present at the meeting between the heads of state of Taiwan and Paraguay. This shows that the incoming Paraguayan administration attaches great importance to enhancing its friendship with Taiwan, he said.

President Tsai also extended a sincere invitation to President-elect Abdo to attend Taiwan's National Day celebrations this year. The latter graciously accepted her invitation, and confirmed plans to attend the celebrations in October.

The deputy secretary-general went on to report on President Tsai's dinner meeting with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, saying that the two heads of state exchanged views on future cooperation between Taiwan and Guatemala. Because the dinner was an informal meeting, most of the talk involved recalling the past, but the two leaders also discussed recent trends and events in the international community. The tone of the meeting was relaxed and cordial, and during the proceedings President Morales posted photos of himself and President Tsai on his personal Twitter account, thus showing the importance he attached to the meeting. He wanted to share information on the meeting in real time so the Guatemalan people could understand what was taking place.

Earlier in the day, Taiwan's Ambassador to Paraguay Diego L. Chou (周麟) and Ambassador Hugo Saguier, President-elect Abdo's foreign affairs advisor, briefed reporters at President-elect Abdo's residence on the content of the meeting between the heads of state of Taiwan and Paraguay. In answering questions from the media, Ambassador Saguier mentioned that President-elect Abdo had said that Paraguay is a very loyal friend. Relations between the two countries have always been close, and will continue to be so in the future. During the meeting, President-elect Abdo also emphasized that free and democratic nations support each other in defending their shared values of democracy, freedom, and human rights.

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