Honduras will 'soon' start FTA negotiations with China, with agricultural goods in focus
Published: May 14, 2023 08:08 PM
China Honduras photo

China Honduras photo

Honduras said it will "soon" start negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) with China, Spanish media EFE reported on Saturday, another bid to rev up economic partnership after the two countries established diplomatic relations in March.

An FTA deal will significantly drive Honduras' economic growth, while enhancing ties between the world's second largest economy and Latin American economies, which also demonstrates China's willingness to share its development dividends with the world, analysts noted.

"We will be starting soon a process of negotiating an FTA with China, which will be good news and (provide) opportunities for access of our products to China," EFE reported, citing a statement by Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina on Friday.

Shrimps, bananas, melons, cigars and beef will among the products that Honduras would be exporting to China, said Reina, who announced that coffee will be the first product that it will send to the Asian economic giant.

The establishment of relations with China opens up "a range of possibilities" in the areas of trade, infrastructure, finance, energy and technology, he added.

The minister noted that a mission of producers and exporters of coffee and other products will travel to China to establish business contacts.

According to China's Foreign Ministry, Honduras is one of the largest coffee beans growers in Central America, and agriculture is the dominant sector in its economy, while its industrial base is relatively weak. The main exports include crops including coffee, bananas and shrimps, as well as minerals such as zinc and silver. 

A view of the island of Roatan in Honduras Photo: VCG

A view of the island of Roatan in Honduras Photo: VCG

The country's main imports include machinery, electronic equipment, chemical products, industrial manufactured products and food.

"It is clear that the trade structures of China and Honduras are complementary," Zhou Zhiwei, an expert on Latin American studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Zhou noted that the FTA is an important arrangement for China's economic and trade cooperation with Latin America. Once the agreement is signed, economic cooperation between China and Honduras will enter an accelerated phase, which will greatly boost the economy of Honduras while leading to more follow-up investments, said the expert.

"We are optimistic about the cooperation opportunities that an FTA may bring. The signing of an agreement will create a more efficient, transparent and convenient trade environment for China and Honduras, and further upgrade cooperation between the two," Xie Zuoqi, a representative from the Association of Fujian in Honduras, told the Global Times on Sunday.

In addition to Honduras, China has accelerated economic cooperation with other Latin American countries. On May 11, China and Ecuador signed an FTA after a year of negotiations, which will eliminate tariffs on 90 percent of the country's export items to China, with about 60 percent to be eliminated immediately after the FTA deal comes into force.

"China and Latin American countries have great complementarity in trade structures, which is also reflected in the fact that foreign trade between China and Latin America maintained growth even during the pandemic. The complementary nature makes their economic and trade cooperation sustainable and able to withstand global economic fluctuations," Zhou noted.

In 2015, when the first ministerial meeting of the Forum of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States was held, the two sides set a goal of achieving $500 billion in trade within 10 years.

In 2022, bilateral trade reached $485.8 billion, China's customs data showed. 

"I believe this year, trade between China and Latin America will achieve and exceed the target set in 2015," Zhou said.