El Salvador high court gives lifeline to Free Trade Agreement with Taiwan

An order to cancel the FTA on March 15 by outgoing Sanchez Ceren administration has been suspended offering ray of hope for Taiwan-El Salvador ties

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President-elect of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele

President-elect of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – In the Central American nation of El Salvador, the high court has suspended the planned termination of a Free Trade Agreement with Taiwan after the country’s Sugar Industry filed an injunction in an effort to keep the FTA active.

The news comes after Taiwan and El Salvador broke off diplomatic relations in August 2018, after more than 70 years. The break with Taiwan was the result of outgoing President Salvador Sanchez Ceren's decision to accept financial inducements from Beijing.

However, El Salvador’s president-elect, Nayib Bukele, who was elected on Feb. 3, 2019, has pledged to root out corruption in the nation’s politics, and said that he would review the decision to abandon Taiwan, made by President Salvador Sanchez Ceren.

In December, Sanchez Ceren issued the order to cancel the FTA. However, businesses in the country, notably the sugar industry, heavily criticized the decision, claiming that an abrupt cancellation of the accord would seriously impact the nation’s economy, reports Reuters.

The order of El Salvador’s high court to maintain the trade agreement with Taiwan, which was set to be canceled on March 15, may be a sign that the country is not yet willing to accept the dictates of the Sanchez Ceren administration.

The new administration of Nayib Bukele will take office from June 2019. With plenty of domestic and international criticism over conduct of the outgoing administration, there may be hope for Taiwan and El Salvador to rekindle a beneficial diplomatic relationship under Bukele.