President Varela opens Embassy in landmark visit to Beijing

1 December 2017

Following the announcement in June 2017 that Panama would break diplomatic relations with Taiwan in order to establish relations with the People’s Republic of China, President Varela made a week-long visit to Beijing from 20 November. Varela arrived to open a new Embassy and to meet President Xi Jinping, with both witnessing the signing of 19 agreements, including plans to start talks on a bilateral free-trade agreement, and cooperation on China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”. New deals were also signed regarding transport infrastructure, electricity, finance, tourism and agriculture. With Chinese company Landbridge Group agreeing to purchase Panama’s biggest port Margarita Island in May, and China Harbour Engineering Company party to a US$165 million contract signed in July to design and build a new cruise terminal at the Panama Canal’s Pacific entrance, the diplomatic move is set to give even greater momentum to the already significant commercial ties between the two nations.