The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) announced Thursday that Taiwan will assist Haiti to secure an NT$4.5 billion (US$150 million) loan to electrify the whole Caribbean island country.
Just before Haitian President Jovenel Moïse began his current five-day visit to Taiwan with a 30-member delegation, Jude Alix Patrick Salomon, the Minister of Economy and Finance announced that Taiwan has granted a loan of approximately US$150 million dollars to build an extensive electric grid in Haiti.
MOFA spokesman Andrew Lee told reporters that the ODA will allow Haiti to secure a loan from Taiwan for its project to build rural power grids on condition that Taiwanese businesses are able to participate in the construction. This provides a win-win situation to help a diplomatic ally with a major infrastructure development project and also creates overseas business opportunities for Taiwanese companies, Lee continued.
According to Taiwan news, with China willing to offer multi-billion dollar loans as part of its “debt trap diplomacy” strategy which lures third world leaders with massive loans in exchange for severing ties with Taiwan, many are worried that Haiti could be next. The most insidious part of China’s debt trap diplomacy is that after corrupt leaders have taken their cut, the countries are ultimately saddled with a mountain of debt they can never repay and thus must surrender a strategic asset, such as a seaport, to China in perpetuity.
Miami Herald reports, Haiti is one of just 18 countries that continue to recognize self-ruling democratic Taiwan after the Dominican Republic and Burkina Faso switched ties to Beijing last month.
As one of Taiwan’s last Caribbean allies, Haiti finds itself in an unusual position of having two suitors willing to offer larges sums of money to woo them to their side, and this time around the country is looking to shift away from charity and head toward long-term development.
Wilson Laleau, former Haiti finance and commerce minister, told the Miami Herald, “Taiwan is a longtime friend… [but] Haiti is looking for where its interests lie.” Laleau then went on to say that the country has shifted towards looking for investors rather than benefactors.
Taiwan news reports, during his current trip to Taiwan, Moïse on Tuesday emphasized that“Haiti is willing to strengthen cooperative partnership with Taiwan so that the relationship between the two countries can be long-lasting and robust.”In exchange, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said that she looked forward seeing the two nations support one another in the pursuit of sustainable development.
In June of last year, Moïse pledged to build a new energy network to provide electricity to the country 24 hours a day within the next 18 to 24 months. The planned grid would cover 600 kilometers and supply power to 16 major cities and ten departments reported Haiti Libre.