On the morning of November 13, President Tsai Ing-wen met with Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández, his wife, and a visiting delegation from Honduras. Noting that this year marks the 80th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, President Tsai stated that Taiwan and Honduras have continued in recent years to expand exchanges in technology, education, and trade. The president thanked Honduras for strongly supporting Taiwan's international participation, and said she looks forward to our two countries further supporting each other on the world stage, jointly advancing progress and development.
A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:
Let me start by extending a sincere welcome to President and First Lady Hernández and the members of the delegation on your visit to Taiwan. Yours is the first presidential delegation from a Latin American diplomatic ally since the outbreak of the pandemic. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Republic of Honduras, which makes your visit especially significant.
Over the past few years, I have had a number of interactions with President and First Lady Hernández. As a result of reciprocal state visits, our bilateral cooperation has grown even closer, and we have seen new projects bear fruit. I still remember that, when I led a delegation to Honduras back in 2017, our technical mission there was cultivating avocado seedlings. Thanks to active bilateral cooperation in the years since, more and more land in Honduras is now being planted with avocados, and we have seen the formation of a comprehensive industrial chain covering production, marketing, and purchasing.
In addition to the results of our technical cooperation, Taiwan and Honduras have continued to expand exchanges in education as well as trade, and bilateral trade volume has risen steadily each year. Honduras is now the main source of whiteleg shrimp sold in Taiwan, and many other Honduran agricultural, fisheries, and livestock products are enjoyed in restaurants and homes across our country. Honduran coffee is also something I personally enjoy very much.
I want to thank President Hernández for recognizing Taiwan's importance and working steadily to deepen our bilateral partnership. Honduras has been a strong supporter of Taiwan's international participation, especially in recent years. At the recently concluded COP26 summit, for example, Honduras once again spoke out in support of Taiwan.
I wish Honduras a successful general election. I also look forward to our two countries continuing to support each other on the world stage, working together to advance progress and development in both our countries. The newly built Palmerola International Airport will soon begin handling air traffic, and promises to bring economic prosperity and development. I congratulate you, President Hernández, for bringing this major project to completion during your time in office.
In closing, I again welcome President and First Lady Hernández and the members of the delegation to Taiwan, and I wish you all a smooth and successful visit. Thank you!
In his remarks, President Hernández expressed thanks for the welcome by President Tsai and all those who helped arrange the trip. By leading this delegation to the Republic of China (Taiwan), President Hernández said he wanted to send a very clear message that friends show their true commitment when times get tough. At such a time of high regional tensions, he said, Honduras wanted to come and show that it stands by Taiwan.
Noting that this year marks the 80th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Republic of Honduras, President Hernández said he sincerely hopes that we can further deepen bilateral ties in trade, technology, education, and other areas. He added that Honduras can use Taiwan as a springboard to Asia, and that Taiwan can likewise use Honduras as a springboard to Latin America.
President Hernández pointed out that Honduras is developing its infrastructure with an eye to becoming a regional and global logistics hub, noting that Honduras has already completed a highway longer than 400 kilometers that links its Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and has expanded the harbor at Puerto Cortés to become the largest Central American port on the Atlantic. The president said this allows goods to be transported from the Atlantic to the Pacific in seven hours, and expressed his intention to actively develop a port on the Pacific coast. President Hernández thanked a delegation of experts from Taiwan's shipping companies for visiting the municipality of Amapala to jointly examine key plans for local development, and expressed his hope to encourage more Taiwanese firms to invest in Honduras.
President Hernández also said he hopes that Taiwan and other countries with aquaculture technology will engage in bilateral cooperation with Honduras to help spur development of his nation's fisheries industry, and thanked the government of Taiwan for helping his country's aquaculture and fisheries industries to develop great potential.
President Hernández further said that bilateral cooperation on scholarships has yielded outstanding results, helping emerging businesses grow and bringing about new business opportunities. The president added that Honduran coffee is the world's best, and that Honduras is the world's fifth-largest exporter of coffee. He affirmed that his country will continue to develop Asian markets so that Honduran industry can achieve even more robust development.
President Hernández also mentioned that the project to produce high-quality avocados is proceeding very successfully, and expressed his hope that President Tsai will have an opportunity to come to Honduras and enjoy its avocados, help develop a market for them in Taiwan, and further promote agricultural products from his country. President Hernández added that the certification of Honduran avocados, in particular, would help the produce reach Asian markets faster.
President Hernández stated that on November 28, Honduras will hold a general election, which will afford its people another opportunity to fully express their will, and said he hopes the expression of their will reflects a desire to continue deepening the firm friendship between our two countries.
In light of how the global pandemic has changed people's lives and greatly increased our reliance on technology, President Hernández expressed hope that his government's achievements in the application of technology in education and medical care can be passed on to the incoming administration. The president mentioned that he is looking forward to exchanging ideas with Taiwan on this subject, and congratulated Taiwan for its success in controlling the spread of COVID-19.
In closing, President Hernández emphasized to the people and government of Taiwan that, Honduras wanted to show that as true friends, Taiwan and Honduras show their true commitment when times get tough. He also expressed hope that the deep friendship between Honduras and Taiwan will continue to strengthen even after his time in office.
The Honduran delegation also included Foreign Minister Lisandro Rosales and his wife, Minister of the Presidency Ricardo Cardona and his wife, Finance Minister Luis Mata and his wife, and Ambassador Eny Bautista. The delegation was accompanied to the Presidential Office by Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Tah-ray Yui (俞大㵢) to meet with President Tsai. Secretary-General to the President David T. Lee (李大維) was also present at the meeting.