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INTERVIEWHonduran FM seeks to strengthen ties with Korea in infrastructure, trade

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Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina Garcia speaks about the opportunities between Korea and Honduras during an interview with The Korea Times in Seoul, Tuesday. Courtesy of Embassy of Honduras in Seoul

Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina Garcia speaks about the opportunities between Korea and Honduras during an interview with The Korea Times in Seoul, Tuesday. Courtesy of Embassy of Honduras in Seoul

By Kim Hyun-bin

Honduran Foreign Minister Eduardo Enrique Reina Garcia has emphasized the importance of strengthening the longstanding relationship between Korea and Honduras, particularly in the areas of infrastructure and trade.

Reina Garcia said that the primary objective of his four-day visit to Seoul was to "strengthen and confirm the great importance that Korea has for Honduran foreign policy."

The two nations enjoy over 60 years of friendship and the minister underscored the significance of cooperation and goodwill.

Reflecting on diplomatic ties, Reina Garcia described them as "very high level," with Honduran President Xiomara Castro promoting more open foreign relations and closer ties with Asia. "For us, Korea is one of the most strategic partners in the region," he said during an interview with The Korea Times in Seoul, Tuesday.

"My main objective is to strengthen and confirm the great importance that Korea holds for Honduran foreign policy," Reina Garcia said. He also underscored that Honduras currently holds pro tempore the presidency of both the Central American Integration System and the Latin American and Caribbean Group. "The relationship with Korea is quite important for us," he added.

The minister's itinerary included participation in the Korea-Latin America and Caribbean Forum, bilateral meetings with Korean Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul and discussions with Prime Minister Han Duck-soo.

Reina Garcia also had a crucial meeting with Korea Railroad Corp. (Korail), discussing future projects aimed at improving infrastructure in Honduras, notably the ambitious Interoceanic Railway project championed by President Castro.

"The meeting with Korail is important for the future of some of the projects that President Castro is trying to promote, such as the Interoceanic Railway in Honduras," he said.

Beyond infrastructure, trade was a significant focus of Reina Garcia's discussions. He highlighted the free trade agreement enacted in 2018 and noted the potential for increased trade between the two countries.

"Unfortunately, the pandemic had consequences on trade, but we are starting to build momentum again," Reina Garcia said. He pointed out that coffee is currently the most important Honduran export to Korea.

"We have a good relationship, but I think we can develop more possibilities. For example, for Honduras, it's about accessing more Honduran products to Korea, such as cantaloupe, melons, cucumbers and tobacco," he said.

He acknowledged some trade barriers, particularly in phytosanitary measures, but expressed optimism about resolving these issues through collaboration.

"The issue of phytosanitary measures, particularly for the cream industry, is something we are working on together to advance and find possibilities for these high-quality Honduran products to enter the Korean market," he said.

The minister also highlighted the substantial presence of Korean companies in Honduras, primarily in the textile and automotive sectors, employing around 8,000 people and contributing significantly to the local economy.

Reina Garcia highlighted Honduras's strategic position near the U.S. market as a significant opportunity for Korean investment. "We have a very important plan of incentives for international companies related to taxes and possibilities," the minister mentioned, emphasizing the new legal frameworks being developed to attract foreign investment.

"Korean investment in Honduras is valued at approximately $300 million. This is very important for us," he said.

The cooperation between the two countries extends to various sectors, including food security, education and technology.

"Korea has important projects related to food security, combating natural disasters and providing technical assistance for technology in Honduras," he added.

Educational and cultural exchanges were also discussed, with the minister acknowledging the impact of Korean culture, particularly K-pop, on Honduran youth. He mentioned the scholarships provided to Honduran students to study in Korea and the potential for increased volunteer work through the Korea International Cooperation Agency.

Tourism was another area of interest. "It is very important to promote the participation of Korean tourists in Honduras," Reina Garcia said, highlighting Honduras's Caribbean coastline, Mayan cultural sites and natural beauty as attractions.

Looking ahead, Reina Garcia envisions even stronger ties between Korea and Honduras.

"For the future, I think the relationship can only improve. Korea has been a steadfast partner in many fields, and we are looking to increase cooperation and trade," he said.

Kim Hyun-bin


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