Agreements between Panama and China continue to move forward

Following Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and Chinese President Xi Jinping signing 19 bilateral agreements in November, Panama’s Foreign Minister last week presented three of the agreements – related to civil aviation, maritime transport, and embassy leasing – before the National Assembly for ratification. On 2 February, officials from both nations met at the Panamanian Foreign Ministry and discussed China’s proposal to build a high-speed rail line from Panama City to the western province of Chiriqui. The following week, Panama’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (CCIAP) and China’s Qingdao Chamber of Commerce signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to deepen business ties and cooperation in logistics, construction and business services. The head of the CCIAP estimated that investment from Qingdao companies could exceed US$5bn. The same day that the Chambers of Commerce signed the MOU, the Panamanian Minister of Economy and Finance said his government would analyse issuing Chinese ‘panda bonds’ – a type of debt denominated in the Chinese currency sold by foreign entities to help finance budgets – if favourable conditions are met.

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