President Tsai Ing-wen, who is currently on her four-day trip to Eswatini, signed three bilateral contracts on Tuesday with Taiwan’s last African ally. One of the memorandums of understanding entails that Taiwan would help Eswatini build an oil reserve in the country.

The Overseas Investment & Development Corporation (OIDC), a Taiwanese company focused on government aid projects overseas, has been contracted to build “a strategic oil reserve,” as Minister of Economy Wang Mei-hua announced during the signing of the agreement.

According to Eswatini's government website, the country’s major oil imports currently come from South Africa, leaving the oil supply susceptible to volatile international crude oil prices. Wang also mentioned that Eswatini had always hoped to establish a local oil reserve capable of storing at least 30 days’ worth of oil supply.

On Twitter, President Tsai referred to the signing of the contracts as “a productive start” to the trip. The president’s office also issued a press release describing the closing deal as “a milestone” in the diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Eswatini, following prolonged discussions about the construction of the oil reserve project in the African country.

Tsai also signed two other bilateral agreements, one for providing loans to female entrepreneurs in Eswatini as part of a larger female empowerment project initiated by Taiwan in 2020, and another for a sister-city agreement between Kaohsiung and Mbabane. The sister-city agreement aims to promote more exchanges of development between the two cities.

Minister Chen further elaborated to the press that Kaohsiung would share its experience with Mbabane in promoting information and communications technology and facilitating the growth of small and medium-sized businesses.

Eswatini is now Taiwan’s last African ally with diplomatic ties, following Honduras’ decision to end its decade-long ties with the island. Currently, Taiwan maintains formal ties with a total of 13 countries, most of which are located in regions in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.

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TNL Editor: Kim Chan (@thenewslensintl)

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