During her meeting with Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benítez and his wife on the morning of October 8, President Tsai Ing-wen thanked the government and people of Paraguay for their warm hospitality when she led a delegation to visit them earlier this year. She also expressed hope that reciprocal visits by heads of state from both countries will bring about new progress and new achievements in future bilateral cooperation and exchanges.
In her remarks, President Tsai once again thanked the government and people of Paraguay for their warm hospitality when she led a delegation to attend President Abdo's inauguration ceremony this past August. A little over a month later, she said, she was delighted to host President Abdo and his wife in Taiwan during his first visit to Taiwan as president, and more significantly, also his first state visit as president.
President Tsai noted that President Abdo is both capable and knowledgeable. He has been quite successful in Paraguayan politics, and both he and First Lady Silvana López Moreira de Abdo have broad public support. President Tsai stated that after she invited President Abdo to come to Taiwan for our National Day celebrations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs received many media requests to interview them so that Taiwanese can learn more about Paraguay, a testament to the couple's charismatic leadership.
President Tsai pointed out that she has visited Paraguay twice since taking office. On her first visit she toured a Feed Production Project factory and the Orchid Exhibition and Sale Center. Then on her second trip to Paraguay she attended the opening ceremony for pre-university courses at Taiwan-Paraguay Polytechnic University (Universidad Politécnica Taiwán-Paraguay, UPTP) and inspected the highly successful Pacu Fingerling Breeding and Cultivation Project.
Through bilateral cooperation with Taiwan, said President Tsai, Paraguay has achieved steady progress in orchid cultivation, and in many different educational fields. She said she will never forget the brilliant white Taiwanese moth orchids (Phalaenopsis hybrida) adorning the dais at President Abdo's inauguration ceremony, and the scene when the UPTP introductory video was playing, and all the students took out their phones to record it.
President Tsai emphasized that the concerted efforts, ideals and expectations of people in both Taiwan and Paraguay are evident in cooperative projects in many areas. We will enhance our scholarship program and the various technical and vocational training projects, she said, and raise our import quotas for Paraguayan beef to spur the growth of bilateral economic and trade ties.
Noting that the "Agreement on Economic Cooperation between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Republic of Paraguay" took effect this past February, President Tsai stated that President Abdo will personally preside over a Paraguay investment roadshow during this trip to spur increased interaction and exchanges between the two countries' business communities. President Tsai said she hopes that President Abdo and his delegation members will take advantage of this visit to update themselves on the current state of Taiwan's economic and trade activities, and experience the warmth and hospitality of the Taiwanese people.
In closing, President Tsai noted that Taiwan and Paraguay earlier this year marked the 61st anniversary of official diplomatic relations, and that Paraguay's new leadership has ushered in a new atmosphere. She expressed hope that reciprocal visits by both countries' heads of state will bring about new progress and new results in future bilateral cooperation.
President Abdo then delivered remarks, saying that he was honored to visit Taiwan, and that coming here felt just like coming home. He had decided to come to Taiwan for his very first state visit after assuming the presidency, he said, because bilateral ties are based on shared values. Although Taiwan is far away from Paraguay, he stated, we nevertheless have similar histories, and our bilateral friendship is rooted in shared beliefs, not profitable transactions.
President Abdo said he has a special feeling about this trip to Taiwan, because his father witnessed the establishment of diplomatic relations between Paraguay and Taiwan over 60 years ago. He also expressed hope that the ideals and dreams of that time will continue to influence the future. He said that Paraguay is Taiwan's loyal friend, and expressed hope that the two countries can further enhance cooperation, and work together for the well-being of their respective peoples.
After President Abdo completed his remarks, the two heads of state signed a joint declaration, reiterating that Taiwan and Paraguay pledge to continue enhancing their long-standing friendly ties, founded on the shared values and principles of a democratic system. In that declaration, Taiwan thanks Paraguay for its staunch, long-term support for Taiwan's full participation in international organizations, and Paraguay praises Taiwan for providing assistance in areas like the economy, education, agriculture, animal husbandry, and flower cultivation, making important contributions to Paraguay's development. The declaration also affirmed that the relationship between Taiwan and Paraguay will soon enter a new phase, with a special focus on promoting investment, trade, and infrastructure from 2018 to 2023.