President hopes for closer industrial cooperation with Paraguay

Asuncion, Paraguay June 28 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen said in a speech on Tuesday that she hoped Taiwan and Paraguay will tighten their industrial cooperation and that the South American ally can become a springboard into Latin America for Taiwanese businesses.

"I hope that the industries on both sides will have more mutual exchanges and investment so that Paraguay can become an important base for Taiwanese companies to enter the market of the Americas," she said during a speech before Paraguay's Congress.

Paraguay is well-positioned to serve the role, Tsai said, because its industrial structure complements Taiwan's and it lies at the heart of South America and is an important member of Mercosur, South America's main trading bloc.

Tsai's delegation includes several Taiwanese business representatives who are looking to build partnerships with their counterparts in Latin America. To further boost bilateral ties, Tsai pledged that Taiwan will move to increase imports of beef products from Paraguay as long as the products comply with Taiwan's quarantine conditions, giving Taiwanese consumers more choice for beef products.

Also urging closer exchanges in education, Tsai announced that the quota of Taiwan scholarships for Paraguayan students to study in Taiwan will be increased to 28 from 14.

She hoped that with more students from Paraguay studying in Taiwan, they and their Taiwanese counterparts will become goodwill ambassadors who help promote bilateral relations in the future.

During the speech, Tsai also noted that 2017 will mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Paraguay.

"Our friendship is based on the common values we share," including freedom, democracy and human rights, Tsai said.

Taiwan's practical diplomacy and the pursuit of a mutually beneficial relationship will be the foundation for relations between Taiwan and Paraguay and also be guiding principles as Taiwan continues to reach out into the world, she said.

Beyond voicing her vision for bilateral relations, Tsai expressed her gratitude for having received a medal from Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes earlier in the day.

On Wednesday, Tsai is scheduled to meet for breakfast with Paraguayan recipients of Taiwan scholarships and then visit a public school.

In the afternoon, she will head to a fertilizer factory that was established under a Taiwan-Paraguay technology cooperation program and attend the launch of an orchid breeding project, according to her itinerary.

Traveling on a special China Airlines flight, Tsai will depart Paraguay on Thursday for Los Angeles, where she will stay overnight before heading home to Taiwan on July 1.

During the nine-day trip to two of Taiwan's diplomatic allies, Tsai also made a transit stop in Miami on her way to Panama. This is her first overseas trip since taking office on May 20. (By Sophia Yeh and Elaine Hou)