TEGUCIGALPA – Honduran Foreign Minister Maria Dolores Agüero said in an interview with EFE that her country is working to ensure protection for its undocumented citizens abroad, for greater regional integration and the promotion of investments, three factors that she set forth as priorities.
The Honduran government “has focused its foreign policy on protection of migrants, deepening regional integration, promoting investments and our country’s competitiveness abroad,” she said.
The preservation of territorial sovereignty and the national borders is another priority of Honduran foreign policy, the foreign minister said.
She emphasized that via the country’s 31 diplomatic missions around the world, the government of Juan Orlando Hernandez is seeking to deepen bilateral relations to guarantee “protection of immigrants, promotion of investments and trade.”
Agüero went on to emphasize the “integration vocation” of the president, placing “particular relevance” on the relationship with countries that are members of the Central American Integration System (SICA).
She said that Honduras has made “different plans” to attain regional integration, providing as an example the customs union launched in June with Guatemala, the first in the region, to allow free trade in at least 75 percent of the goods exchanged between the two countries.
Honduras and Guatemala have a joint GDP of about $73 billion, some 46 percent of the region’s GDP, and their bilateral trade comprises about 40 percent of Central America’s, according to government figures.
The Honduran president has repeatedly invited Nicaragua and El Salvador to join the customs union, and Salvadoran authorities in late July expressed their willingness to take part in the initiative while the Nicaraguans are still evaluating such a move.
Agüero said that “in the coming weeks” a meeting will be held at El Amatillo, the border crossing between Honduras and El Salvador, where Hernandez and his Salvadoran counterpart, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, will sign a statement of commitment to set forth the “roadmap” for incorporating the neighboring country into the customs union.
Regarding migration, she said that Honduras is promoting the Alliance for Prosperity Plan with El Salvador and Guatemala, to which the US has contributed some $1.3 billion over the past two years.
The issue of irregular migration must “be dealt with jointly” by the three countries comprising Central America’s Northern Triangle – Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador – because of the “similar characteristics such as lack of security and lack of opportunities” that all three are experiencing, she said.
She also said that Honduras is investing $4 for every $1 the US contributes to the Alliance for Prosperity Plan, whereby the Northern Triangle is seeking to strengthen its security to reduce violence, fight against corruption and provide technical assistance to attract investment to the region with the aim of discouraging migration.