Belize – Taiwan Relations
October 11th, 2015 marked the 26th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Belize and the Republic of China (Taiwan). Since the establishment of relations in 1989, both countries have worked together to strengthen and solidify their relations in areas of mutual interest.
Relations between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Government of Belize are cordial and continue to strengthen through cooperation and friendly relations where each country offers support in areas of mutual interest. In June 2009, President of the Republic of China, Ma Ying-jeou, carried out an official visit to Belize. During the visit he addressed the National Assembly and had private meetings with the Honorable Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet. Most notably was the signing of an ITC agreement between the Governments of Belize and the Republic of China (Taiwan). The agreement was signed by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of both countries.
In August of 2015 Vice President Wu den Yih visited Belize. During his visit, Vice President Wu reiterated Taiwan’s continued cooperation with Belize.
In the past four consecutive years from 2011-2015, groups of investors from the Republic of China (Taiwan) visited Belize and toured various areas of the country accompanied by members from BELTRAIDE. The objective of the visit was to identify potential areas of investment in the country. The trips were also reciprocated with delegations of Belizean Businessmen/Businesswomen, visiting Taiwan for further cooperation and collaboration in the area of trade.
Belize continues to receive technical and financial assistance extended by the Republic of China (Taiwan), in areas such as sustainable agriculture, aquaculture, institutional strengthening, promotion of tourism, scholarships/training, trade and investment, health, and poverty reduction, among others.
Strengthening of Bilateral Relations:
Within the diplomatic arena, Belize and other diplomatic allies continue to strongly support Taiwan’s efforts to gain admission in international organizations such as International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Official diplomatic meetings are often held by the ROC’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to highlight and discuss the nation’s ongoing efforts to enhance its global standing within the international community.
Additionally, bi-lateral relations continue to be enhanced and strengthened with official visits made by representatives of the Government of Belize. Such visits, at the invitation of the Republic of China (Taiwan), continue to herald the positive engagement between Taiwan and Belize.
The International Cooperation Development Fund (ICDF)
The Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF), is dedicated to boosting socio-economic development, enhancing human resources and promoting economic relations in a range of developing partner countries. ICDF also offers humanitarian assistance and provides aid in the event of natural disasters or international refugee crises. Since 1996 the ICDF has consistently engaged in economic, cultural, agricultural, and technical cooperation with Belize. Taiwan ICDF supports the Belize Technical Mission which is located in Central Farm in the Cayo District.
Central American Economic Development Fund (“the Fund”)
The Central American Economic Development Fund (the Fund), falls under the ICDF. The Agreement on the Republic of China (Taiwan) – Central American Economic Development Fund (the Fund) was signed on July 3, 1998, to strengthen the relationship of the ROC with the Fund’s member countries (currently, they are Belize, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama). The objectives of the Fund are to expand the economic, trade and investment cooperation between the ROC and said member countries.
The Board of Directors of the Fund is consisted of a Director (the Minister of Foreign Affairs) from each member country and a representative of the General Secretariat of the SICA. A Board Meeting will be held every six months and the forum of the meeting shall be at least five members of the Board.
The Directors of the Board may appoint a representative (usually the Ambassador of the member countries in the ROC) to attend the meetings if he/she is not able to attend.
Taiwan and the Central American Integration System (SICA)
The Republic of China (Taiwan) entered SICA as an Extra-regional Observer on April 24, 2002 and within the last decade the SICA member countries and the Republic of China (Taiwan) have developed a close relationship, in the political, economic, social, cultural and environmental fields. Over half of Taiwan’s foreign assistance is channeled to Central America, where six Central American countries are allied countries with Taiwan, and to the Caribbean, where Taiwan has five diplomatic partners. A SICA/ROC meeting is held every two years, with rotation in Taiwan and the SICA country which holds the presidency at the time of the meeting. In December 2014, the SIC/ROC meeting was held in Placencia, Belize.
The Central American Trade Office (CATO)
The Central American Trade Office, Taiwan, (CATO), was established in 1997 with the aim of promoting and furthering bilateral relations, business cooperation and investment development, as well as providing other services pertinent to trade between Taiwan and its diplomatic allies in Central America (Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama).
The Central America Trade Office was created taking into consideration the needs of the Embassies of the Central American diplomatic allies in Taiwan and abides by the laws of the government of the Republic of China in accordance with the Work Program on Strengthening Economic and Trade Relations with Central American Countries, whose main goals are the promotion of bilateral relations and strategic alliances as well as helping Taiwanese businesses invest and establish themselves in the Central American diplomatic allied countries; thereby making CATO the matchmaker and the bridge between Taiwan and Central America.
CATO falls under the Central American Economic Development Fund” the Fund”. The Board of “the Fund” reviews the CATO’s annual budget and the Secretariat of “the Fund” follows up the Board’s resolution to disburse the approved budget to the CATO to fund its expenses for administration (personnel expenses and office operations) and promotional projects (joint promotion and individual country promotion).
The Embassy of Belize in Taiwan is presently working with CATO to formulate the new 2015 Country and Regional projects which will include, among others, the Taipei Food Show, the Taipei Int’l Cultural and Creative Industry EXPO, Taipei Int’l Travel Fair, Tourism Shows, Trade Shows and Investment Meetings, Investment and Strategic Alliance Promotion and Tourism and Culture – the continuing collaboration to complete the Belize City House of Culture and Downtown Rejuvenation Project.”
In an effort to promote Belize within the Republic of China (Taiwan) and to increase Taiwanese investments in Belize, the ROC government, through the Central American Trade Office (CATO), has assisted with funding several initiatives such as the publishing of travel brochures, DVD videos and additional promotional media. These informational materials are intended to highlight and increase awareness by portraying a favorable image of Belize to the Chinese speaking population, as both a tourist and investment destination.
Additionally, with the assistance of CATO, Belize also participates in various forums on trade and tourism expositions. These events are geared towards promoting food exports, food processing machinery and equipment, providing information on travel destinations as well as the generation and sharing of ideas for effective tourism management and promotional techniques.
Trade and Investment:
In an effort to increase and diversify Belize’s market potential, several members of the Belizean public and private sectors visited the Republic of China (Taiwan) from 2011-2015 to hold discussions on potential business cooperation and investment opportunities with Taiwanese investors. Areas focused on included energy, agriculture, aquaculture, value added production, food processing, and services among others. For their part, the Taiwanese officials continue to demonstrate keen interest toward the further development of ideas and exchanges raised, with the goal to ensure that initiatives fully materialize. Such discussions provided a solid foundation for future follow-up action on business investment ideas and opportunities.
In 2015, Belizean students continued to receive scholarships from the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan). In August 2015, 25 Belizean scholarship recipients arrived in Taiwan to pursue either undergraduate or graduate level studies in the Republic of China (Taiwan). The approximate total number of Belizean students presently studying in the ROC is eighty-nine (89). The students are enrolled in several different programs including: International Business/Trade, Engineering, Health, Agriculture, Science, Art, Language, Biology and Education. (ANNEX I)
Since the Embassy started recording Belize’s student activity in Taiwan (2008) 128 of our students have successfully completed their studies and have since returned home to Belize to serve their country. These annual scholarships provide an excellent opportunity to acquire the necessary skills for the development and enrichment of our young Belizeans, who go back home to assist in the enhancement of Belize’s, development, labor force and the economy.
The Republic of China (Taiwan) continues to share its expertise on sustainable fisheries production to provide local Belizean producers the necessary skills to increase production in the farming of tilapia and shrimp, and to develop and implement the marketing strategies for the export of these commodities in the international market.