China's rejection of Guatemalan shipments could be related to Taiwan ties, Guatemala president says

Interview with Guatemala's President Arevalo at the National Palace of Culture, in Guatemala City

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) -Guatemalan President Bernardo Arevalo said on Friday that China had rejected entry to some shipments from the Central American nation, speculating that this could be due to Guatemala's diplomatic relationship with Taiwan.

The day before, Guatemala's exporters association had reported that at least seven containers of macadamia nuts had been unable to enter China and that traders had been told Guatemalan macadamia and coffee would be denied entry.

Guatemala is one of only 12 countries that has diplomatic ties with Taiwan. Beijing claims the democratically-governed island as its own territory, which Taiwan rejects.

"As you know, the inauguration of the new Taiwanese government, which Guatemala has ties with, was a few days ago," Arevalo said in a live question-and-answer session on TikTok. "There could be some dispute with China related to this."

Guatemalan Foreign Minister Carlos Ramiro Martinez attended the inauguration of Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te on Monday.

Arevalo said the Guatemalan government was working to resolve the issue but had not received a response from China.

Guatemala exported $82 million worth of goods to China last year, according to the exporters association.

Lai and Arevalo spoke via videoconference on Tuesday, with Lai thanking him for his staunch support and calling for the further strengthening of ties, according to a readout from Taiwan's presidential office.

Lai invited Arevalo to visit Taiwan, while Arevalo invited Lai to come to Guatemala, the statement added.

Then-President Tsai Ing-wen went to Guatemala last year, a week after neighboring Honduras severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in favor of Beijing.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Brendan O'Boyle, William Mallard and Sonali Paul)