Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo Benítez is leading a delegation to Taiwan next week amid concerns that the South American country might sever diplomatic ties with Taiwan after the upcoming elections. The incumbent President of the ruling Colorado Party is ineligible to run for re-election.

Efrain Alegre, the presidential candidate for the opposition Authentic Radical Liberal Party, said in January that if he won the election in April, Paraguay would cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan and instead establish relations with China. But Santiago Pena, for the ruling party, has vowed to maintain Paraguay’s diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Paraguay is one of Taiwan’s 14 remaining diplomatic allies, which are mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Carlos María López López, President of the Chamber of Deputies of Paraguay of the Colorado Party, told President Tsai Ing-wen during his visit to Taiwan in January that despite the geographic distance between Taiwan and Paraguay, bonds of friendship and shared feelings unite the two countries.

President Tsai cited the establishment of the Taiwan-Paraguay Polytechnic University as an indicator of strong bilateral relations. During the pandemic, the total of our bilateral trade also from January through October of last year reached a record high of more than US$220 million, she added.


Photo Credit: CNA

President Tsai shakes hands with Carlos María López López, President of the Chamber of Deputies of Paraguay, on January 9, 2023.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday that at the invitation of the government, President Abdo and the First Lady of Paraguay, accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Julio César Arriola and his wife, Minister of Industry and Commerce Luis Castiglioni, and other important government officials, are scheduled to visit Taiwan.

It will be the second time for President Abdo to visit Taiwan as head of state since he and his wife came to Taiwan to participate in the National Day celebration ceremony in October 2018. President Tsai Ing-wen will welcome the Paraguayan delegation with a solemn military salute and a state banquet.

MOFA said Taiwan has maintained diplomatic ties with Paraguay for more than 65 years. Presidents of both countries will exchange views on bilateral cooperation and issues of mutual concern, and oversee the signing of the “Cooperation Agreement on Training and Exchange of Diplomatic Personnel” by foreign ministers of both parties.

Lien Yu-ping, Director General of MOFA Department of International Cooperation and Economic Affairs, said that Abdo would be attending the “2023 Paraguay meat products promotion and investment opportunities information session” on the afternoon of the 15th. During the event, the Paraguayan president and his wife will demonstrate how to cook Taiwanese dishes with ingredients from Paraguay, while Paraguay’s minister of industry and commerce will give a presentation on the business environment of the South American country.

Paraguay is among the world’s top 10 beef exporting countries and the fourth largest soybean exporting country in the world. Paraguay’s beef producers and farmers consider the country’s diplomatic ties with Taiwan to be the barrier to exporting Paraguayan products into China.

President Abdo has once called on Taiwan to invest US$1 billion in Paraguay to help him resist the “enormous pressure” to switch diplomatic allegiance from Taiwan to China.

This article originally appeared in The News Lens Chinese edition. Translation is by Edward Ying-jen Lin.

TNL Editor: Bryan Chou (@thenewslensintl)

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