China, Honduras firms ready to tap each other’s market
Cooperation can extend from agriculture to tourism, infrastructure construction: experts
Published: Jun 13, 2023 09:40 PM
China, Honduras Photo: CFP

China, Honduras Photo: CFP

After China and Honduras have signed agreements to strengthen cooperation, China is opening its arms to businesses from Honduras that can't wait to test the waters in the world's most populous country, with a Chinese expert saying that there's plenty of demand in China for Honduras' products like seafood. 

In a joint statement signed on Monday, both sides reached a consensus on negotiating a free trade agreement and promoting practical cooperation in various fields at the initial stage as China-Honduras relations take off.

China welcomes Honduras' featured products to enter domestic markets, as well encouraging Chinese companies to participate in projects involving the environment, energy and infrastructure in Honduras.

Honduras welcomes Chinese companies to invest and is willing to offer "policy support and convenience," the statement said. 

On Monday, the two countries signed a document to allow the entry of Honduras' South American whiteleg shrimp into the Chinese market. So far, Chinese customs has given green light to nine aquatic products enterprises from Honduras to register in China and carry out trade, according to the customs.

Rasel Tomé, vice president of the National Congress of Honduras, told the Global Times that they are very happy and optimistic to receive this great news about the signing of these agreements between China and Honduras. "It will achieve development for our country. It presents us with a path to follow. Let's get to work and implement these agreements," he said.

The two countries established diplomatic relations in March. In a recent interview, Fredis Cerrato, Honduran minister of economic development, said that the cooperation intentions between the two countries are mainly concentrated in the agricultural sector, such as exports to China of Honduran coffee, white shrimp, melon and other products.

Fan Xubing, a veteran aquatic products marketer, said that the production scale of Honduras' South American shrimp is not very big, but access to the Chinese market will surely bring benefits to local aquatic companies.

"In the past, Honduras mostly exported South American whiteleg shrimp to the US. But as market demand started to weaken in the US due to inflation, China has become a very good substitute market, as Chinese customers have huge demand for South American whiteleg shrimp after Ecuadorian white shrimp became popular," Fan told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

China imports about 80 percent of South American whiteleg shrimp from Ecuador and India, Fan said. But the Chinese market is very large, and after Honduras' whiteleg shrimp enters China's market, it won't be difficult for those exporters to get a slice of the Chinese market.

He also suggested that officials and industry associations in Honduras could hold activities to promote those products, especially letting customers know how those products are different from Ecuadorian white shrimp.

In 2022, bilateral trade reached about $1.589 billion, customs data showed. In the first four months of this year, China's exports to Honduras surged by 22.9 percent in yuan terms, while imports surged 229.5 percent.

Apart from trade, businesses from both sides are preparing for investment in the other country. A representative of a Beijing-based infrastructure company, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Global Times on Tuesday that it held an investment dialogue with Honduran entrepreneurs on Sunday, with an exchange of information on the investment environment and situation in Honduras.

The representative disclosed that the company will soon make a field trip to Honduras to better understand the Latin American country, because he believes that there will be huge potential for infrastructure cooperation under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. 

"We have mature experience, technology and abundant capital that can help it be better connected," said the person.

On Sunday, the First China-Honduras High-Level Entrepreneur Exchange Conference was held in Beijing, during which entrepreneurs actively sought cooperation opportunities in agriculture, technology, finance and other areas, as they are eager to learn about each other's policy landscape and market demand.

Nearly 120 Chinese entrepreneurs from fields such as foreign trade, engineering, finance, telecommunications and tourism signed up to participate in the exchange and engage with Honduran companies, said Zhang Shaogang, a vice chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, the event organizer.

Industry experts said that the signing of cooperative agreements is good news for both countries, as it will unleash business cooperation in multiple aspects. 

"China can take advantage of the cooperation to increase its influence in Central America and Latin America. For Honduras, the establishment of free trade relations with China could bring a large number of customers to Honduran traders as well as more business options," Xie Zuoqi, a representative of the Association of Fujian in Honduras, told the Global Times on Tuesday

Xie noted that Honduras has abundant natural resources and excellent geographical location, which are in demand by Chinese companies as their overseas investment keeps expanding.

"China's huge consumption market will generate great opportunities for Honduran agriculture, such as coffee, bananas and seafood. China is also implementing favorable measures for Honduran products," he said, noting that China-Honduras cooperation will be further extended to fields including tourism, energy, internet and infrastructure construction.