China will start discussions on a bilateral free trade agreement with Honduras, in a significant step toward reinforcing economic ties after both countries established diplomatic relations in March.
This was jointly announced by Wang Wentao, minister of commerce, and Fredis Cerrato, minister of economic development of Honduras, via a video conference on Tuesday, China's Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.
China and the Central American country had said in a joint statement released on June 12 that there was consensus to engage in discussions on a bilateral free trade agreement.
The launch of negotiations for the FTA is set to enhance pragmatic cooperation in the economic and trade sectors between the two countries. It aims to provide impetus for further improving the quality and level of bilateral trade, as well as strengthening investment and cooperation across various fields, according to the statement.
Mao Ning, a spokeswoman for China's foreign ministry, said at a news conference on Tuesday that the bilateral relationship has shown strong development momentum since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Honduras, with comprehensive expansion of pragmatic cooperation in various fields.
China is willing to work together with Honduras to tap into the potential of, and achieve more fruitful results in, mutually beneficial cooperation, thereby continuously creating a brighter future for bilateral relations, Mao added.
China and Honduras saw their trade value surge 14.9 percent year-on-year to $740 million in the first five months of 2023, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.
China mainly imports coffee, fruit and aquatic products from Honduras, while it exports clothing, machinery, construction material, computers, furniture, toys and other daily necessities to Honduras.
Currently, Chinese and Honduran companies primarily focus on cooperating in the agricultural sector, including the export of Honduran agricultural products to China, said Liang Ming, director of the Institute of International Trade under the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.
Having a free-trade agreement will help businesses on both sides enhance collaboration in various sectors such as investment, energy, telecommunications and infrastructure, he said.
State-owned China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd, a subsidiary of Beijing-headquartered China Communications Construction Co Ltd, has already headed in that direction.
The company is currently working on the construction of two bridges, the refurbishment of the San Lorenzo port and the expansion of a highway in Honduras, according to information released by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council.