Honduras cuts diplomatic ties with Taiwan, leaving Honduran shrimp farmers uneasy

Honduras shrimp farming

In March 2023, Honduras President Xiomara Castro announced his country was breaking diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which is its largest export market, to partner with China. The move has many Hondurans working in the shrimp-farming industry concerned about their job security.

Honduras and Taiwan signed a free-trade agreement in 2008, and since then, shrimp exports to Taiwan have become the source of approximately USD 100 million (EUR 91 million) in annual revenue for Honduras, making it the country's fifth-biggest export by value. In 2022, Honduras sent one-third of its total shrimp production to Taiwan.

Honduras' decision leaves Taiwan with only 13 diplomatic allies. China refuses to conduct diplomatic relationships with nations that recognize Taiwan as an independent country, considering Taiwan – which is a self-ruled democratic island – to be part of its own territory. While China's economy is one of the largest in the world, and the resumption of diplomatic ties gives Honduran exporters the opportunity to expand into that market, shrimp farmers are concerned they won't be able to compete there.

“For Honduras, as a shrimp producer, losing the Taiwanese market is a very difficult situation in terms of price levels,” Yader Rodriguez, a shrimp trader, told Agence France-Presse. “Taiwan is a high-value market where our shrimp can sell at almost twice the price of the Chinese market.”

The National Aquaculturists Association of Honduras has voiced concerns in meetings with federal authorities the move will jeapordize the country's shrimp industry, which faced far less competition in Taiwan.

Shrimp farming in Honduras has been an important part of the country’s economy since the 1970s, and the industry now operates more than 300 farms covering 60,000 acres of land. According to the Tico Times, more than 150,00 Hondurans work directly or indirectly in the shrimp-farming sector. 

The global seafood trade has become a battleground in the China-Taiwan spat.

Photo courtesy of Phensri Ngamsommitr/Shutterstock 


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