The government of President Bukele strengthens and expands international relations

Expanding and strengthening international relations is one of the fundamental efforts of the government of President Nayib Bukele, with the aim of attracting foreign investment, positioning the image of El Salvador before the world and reactivating the ties of brotherhood with countries that were forgotten by the previous administrations for betting on an almost exclusive relationship with the United States.

Recently, the Salvadoran government signed an agreement with the Swedish Environmental Research Institute to study sustainability and smart cities. The Salvadoran diplomatic corps has also held meetings with the rector of the University of Agricultural Sciences, María Knutson Wedel, to establish cooperation agreements to promote the Agricultural Takeoff Plan in El Salvador.

Last May, the Legislative Assembly approved the budget allocation of $5 million for this plan and the financing of the Special Trust for the Agricultural Sector (Fideagro). With these resources, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) will expand the credit portfolio for farmers by up to $5,000. In previous governments, the loan ceiling for the sector was set at $3,000.

Also in May, President Bukele received an official visit from his Mexican counterpart, Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The Mexican president announced the expansion of the Youth Building the Future and Sembrado Vida programs. Both have been implemented jointly since 2019 as a mechanism to curb irregular migration.

Sembrado Vida teaches Salvadoran farmers not to depend only on traditional crops, but also to implement the milpa interspersed between fruit trees.

Farmers receive technical support from the National Center for Agricultural and Forestry Technology (Centa) to improve their crops and sell them at a good price. In addition, the Salvadoran government has worked on agriculture and food security issues with Honduras, Japan, Palestine, Korea, and Brazil.

Always on agricultural issues, the Salvadoran diplomatic and consular network recently held a fair in Qatar to present the variety of Salvadoran coffee, with the purpose of strengthening diplomatic relations with that country and opening business opportunities to position the Salvadoran golden grain in the world.

The national product was exposed last January to businessmen from Belgium, who were interested in establishing future business in the coffee sector.

On the other hand, the executive is committed to renewable energy. The ambassador of El Salvador in Peru recently met with representatives of the National Energy Company of that country to learn about the photovoltaic plant project and explore the possibility of concretizing the technical cooperation of renewable energies.

Likewise, the president of the republic made an official visit to Turkey on January 20 and 21 to strengthen diplomatic relations and attract Turkish companies that invest in the Salvadoran energy sector. Bukele was received with all honors by the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with whom he established cooperation agreements in technology, health, and tourism.

Diplomatic and trade relations with countries such as Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, and Finland have also been strengthened. On February 23, representatives of the Salvadoran government participated in the first El Salvador-Finland Political Dialogue and Cooperation Meeting. The meeting highlighted the importance of Finnish cooperation in the areas of education, renewable energy, the environment and climate change.

In addition, the Salvadoran government has held key meetings to promote joint initiatives in the field of cooperation with Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the Slovak Republic, Romania, Serbia, India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Norway.

In the latter country, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adriana Mira, and the then State Secretary of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Anders Jens Frølich Holte, met virtually in June 2021 and highlighted national priorities in the areas of education , technology, energy, aeronautics, and the aerospace sector.

The chancellor of the republic, Alexandra Hill Tinoco, recently held a telephone meeting with her counterpart from Australia, Marise Payne, and they discussed issues of the bilateral relationship. According to the Foreign Ministry, that country was in favor of strengthening the political, economic, and cooperation spheres.

Contrary to this dynamic, the four ARENA governments kept their distance from the world powers of China and Russia. That changed on August 8, 2019—with the administration of President Bukele—, when the then Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ana Geraldina Beneke, met with the Russian ambassador accredited in Nicaragua and concurrent for El Salvador, Andrey Vladimirovich Budaev, with the purpose of strengthening ties.

During the meeting, emphasis was placed on the cooperation that Russia can provide on the security issue, as part of the Territorial Control Plan promoted by the Central Government. The Russian government has also offered to increase cooperation in health, technology, education, and culture.

The Salvadoran president made a historic visit—six months after taking office—to the People’s Republic of China, where he was received by President Xi Jinping. The leaders spoke of the strengthening of the brotherhood between both nations and addressed issues of cooperation in education, health, science, and technology.

The Chinese government offered El Salvador the construction of a new national library and a national stadium, projects that are already underway. He also announced the construction of a water purification plant in Ilopango and water sanitation in La Libertad. As a result of relations with China, our country has benefited from significant donations of vaccines to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Official meetings have also been held with India to review issues on the bilateral agenda, especially in the economic-commercial areas, cooperation, association with development, public diplomacy, and regional and multilateral affairs.

The government also plans to open and establish an embassy in South Africa.