BEIJING, Nov. 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Last week, for the first time in history, the President of the Republic of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, made a state visit to the People’s Republic of China to meet with his counterpart, President Xi Jinping, marking the first official state visit by Panama to China since the formal establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries earlier this year.
During the visit, the two leaders adopted 19 agreements and a Joint Declaration, which together lay the foundation for a new stage of Panama – China relations, and continue to strengthen Panama’s diplomatic, economic, commercial and tourism platforms. President Varela, accompanied by the members of his cabinet, also opened the Embassy of Panama in Beijing, and the Panamanian Consulate in Shanghai.
The agreements completed between the two countries include:
Trade and investment promotion, facilitating the opening of the Chinese market for Panamanian exports, and strategic alliances between Panamanian and Chinese companies. Financing for development and infrastructure projects, including the development of a massive railroad. A tourism agreement which categorizes Panama as an approved tourism destination and eases visa processes for Chinese tourists to visit Panama. A maritime cooperation agreement which grants the status of Most Favored Nation to Panama, and facilitates trade through China’s ports. The inclusion of Panama in China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative, where it will play a key role thanks to the Panama Canal and its strong financial and logistics platforms, amongst other offerings. The opening of Air China’s direct flight between Panama and China in March 2018.
Both nations also agreed to carry out cooperation projects in science, technology and cultural matters. Additionally, China confirmed its support for President Juan Carlos Varela’s initiative to promote the construction of a passenger and cargo train that connects the provinces of Panama and Chiriqui. The agreement will result in a pre-feasibility study for the Rail Transport System, one of the priority cooperation areas for both countries.
President Varela also met with the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Shanghai, Li Qiang, the highest authority of the largest city in China, where he also met with business leaders and invited them to establish commercial alliances with Panama and to use its logistics and services platform to better reach Latin America.
In Shanghai, the Panamanian delegation also hosted “PanamaFest”, an event that brought together the main tour operators, travel agencies, hoteliers