Panama and China come out of State Visit very happy



Up Front

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela’s state visit to China did not disappoint, either for the Panamananians or the Chinese.

As expected with a well-managed state visit, while there were lots of events, there were few surprises.  President Varela described the trip as “an intense agenda, but extremely productive,” and the agenda shows it. Panama formally opened its embassy in Beijing. The two parties signed 19 cooperation agreements, including: agriculture, international trade, investment, electricity and tourism. Air China will begin flights to Panama (via Houston) in March of next year. And the Colón Free Trade Zone (ZLC) signed a cooperation agreement with the Zhuhai Latin America Industrial Park. This all done with the hopes of attracting more Chinese business and investment to Panama, and making the country the trade hub for China in Latin America.

While the commercial impact redounds to Panama’s benefit, China got what it wanted, as well. President Varela spoke out strongly in favor of China’s foreign policy goals in Latin America:

“Undoubtedly, our decision would serve as a model for other countries to follow – which is that other countries will follow our example of supporting the one-China policy.

“I believe that the one-China consensus would be strengthened in other countries in the region.”

And Varela instead that the decision to establish recognition with China was national, not political, and will last long after he leaves office:

"When our government made the decision, it received the support of 100% of the population, and from all political parties. I have to recognize that it was a decision of state that will have continuity."

No doubt China would welcome such stability and commitment in all it’s government-to-government relations in Latin America.

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