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Dec 15, 2014

Heads of Governments Meet for SICA Summit

The Placencia Peninsula is overflowing tonight where delegations from Central America and the Dominican Republican are converging for the SICA Summit. But today, the Central American countries, except for Costa Rica, met with Taiwan. The Taiwanese government has substantive cooperation programs with the region and that was the focus for today’s meeting. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Sixteenth Joint Commission, attended by foreign ministers from across Central America and the Dominican Republic, convened this morning at Maya Beach on the Placencia Peninsula.  With the exception of Costa Rica, the entire sub-region continues to support the political ambitions of the Republic of China on Taiwan.  Equally, that relationship has given rise to a development assistance program, led by the ROC, which has allowed the region to advance its SICA objective.


David Lin

David Lin, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan

“Over the past twenty-two years, Taiwan has been a major contributor to a number of projects, cooperation projects between Taiwan and SICA.  Most of the projects are actually very comprehensive, doable and mutually beneficial.  All those projects actually, have been very helpful in contributing to socioeconomic development of the region and also paving the way for further regional integration.  So we feel that this is a very important undertaking and I feel very proud that Taiwan can be part of the process in cooperation and coordination with our regional economic partners.”


Belize’s pro tem presidency of the Central American Integration System, SICA, comes to an end on Wednesday when the chair will be handed over to Guatemala.  The series of meetings will look at capitalizing a number of ongoing initiatives.


Wilfred Elrington

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“This is a meeting of the mechanism which provides the funding for projects that are implemented regionally.  Taiwan has been giving various sums of monies to finance regional projects, as much as twenty-seven million I’m told [was donated] last year, if my figures are correct.  This is another meeting now, this year, to decide on the quantum that they will give and the projects that they are going to spend it in, and you know they give monies for institutional strengthening, for disaster preparedness, for security, for education, for health, all those areas that are vital and necessary for development of the region.  And so this year, it seems that they will be giving us some twenty-three million dollars, as a region, to fund the projects which we have with them.”


Belize, in particular, has benefited considerably from its relationship with Taiwan.  Through its International Cooperation and Development Fund, ICDF, the island nation has assisted in many areas, including agriculture.


David Lin

“Our cooperation with Belize has been very comprehensive too because in the process of the past few decades we have already made some contributions to Belize’s sustainable development.  In terms of infrastructure, road works and also we have extensive cooperation in such areas like agriculture and fisheries etc… So for the moment, we still have some important projects going on.  One of them is a fisheries project, the other one is the control of HLB disease for citrus.  So we are cooperating with the Citrus Growers Association  in order to find more healthy seedlings to revitalize the citrus industry.  At the same time we also have one important ICT project.  So we have already set up an ICT center here in Belize and we hope that ICT will make further contribution to the e-government or e-commerce or e-business, you know, in the future.”


According to Minister of Foreign Affairs Wilfred Elrington, the agreement with Taiwan is arguably the best partnership outside of the existing cooperation with the EU.


Wilfred Elrington

“Taiwan is perhaps one of the best partnerships which we have.  I think the only one which is better than the one we have with Taiwan is the relationship which we have with the European Union but Taiwan, the European Union, Cuba assists us in some very serious ways, the United States also, particularly in terms of security but from Taiwan and Cuba and the European Union we get development assistance, very vital to our country’s development and future.”


As it relates to SICA, Foreign Minister David Lin says that over the next two years Taiwan will also be assisting with risk management and climate change adaptability, as well as economic and social integration.


David Lin

“We can also identify more opportunities whereby countries can move forward towards cooperation on a bilateral basis so both are workable but I still feel that SICA has a very important role to play in terms of regional integration and economic development so that all countries can work together for their common future in the region and Taiwan is very proud of being an outside partner with the region but we feel that can also do everything we can to facilitate such a process of regional integration.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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