7 News Belize

Foreign Minister Speaks On Guat-Taiwan Relations
posted (August 16, 2017)

For the past week, we've been reporting on the $650 million US dollar aid package that Taiwan has supposedly given to Guatemala. According to Guatemalan media reports, the money is to build the Jacobo Arbenz 4-lane freeway to Puerto Barrios. It's that road that the British were supposed to construct out of the 1859 treaty.  They never did so and now, President Jimmy Morales says, the Taiwanese are chipping in. But according to Foreign Affairs Minister Wilfred Elrington, the Guatemalans shouldn't get too happy because they are the ones who asked Taiwan for the assistance and it is not clear if the Taiwanese will actually grant them aid. Now, one major concern has been if this road will have any impact on Belize.  Elrington told us today that it will but certainly not as it relates to the broader Belize- Guatemala dispue.

Hon. Wilfred Elrington - Foreign Minister
"I think the Taiwanese have pointed out repeatedly that was a request made to them by Guatemala but that they are not in a position to accommodate that request. Taiwan like other countries try to help developing countries to develop their countries and they Guatemalan president obviously in an interest to try to further develop Guatemala made a request for that sum of money but it's not likely that they will get it. Of course whatever investment goes into Guatemala particularly in relation to roads and the lights, whatever helps enhance their road infrastructure has a very important implication for the economic development because we are so near to each other they can always be spill off effects. So if you have a very nice 4 lane highway in Guatemala going all the way to the sea it might well find very soon many more people coming through to Belize going up to Mexico from Guatemala so it brings more traffic to Belize that of course brings both benefits and burdens so it's something that we need to be apprise of and see how we would benefit from it. I think the benefits certainly will outweigh the negatives and I think that we need to position ourselves to benefit from it. The whole issue of the building of the road under the 1859 treaty was regarded by the British as a non-issue, that's a non-issue. So whether they build it or not is not of any moment, it's not going to affect in any way the litigation in which we have, that's a non-issue, it has no real bearing on the issue. Why we have to go to ICJ is because we don't have borders that are internationally recognized and that can put us in trouble."

The Taiwanese have stated that they could not give such an aid package to Guatemala, because the amount exceeds their annual budget for Foreign Affairs.

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