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Panama and China and Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Negotiations; Increasing Commercial / Cultural / Educational Activity Between the Two Countries


This topic was split out from the following existing topic because it appears that it will be a fairly significant topic.


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Moderator comment: Posted as yet another perspective on the subject of Panama-PRC relations.


The evolution of Panama-PRC relations since recognition, and their strategic implications for the U.S. and the region


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On 10/24/2018 at 11:39 AM, Moderator_02 said:


On 11/5/2018 at 8:13 PM, Moderator_02 said:



Panama to Export Beef to Asia

After the approval of three beef processing plants in Panama by the Chinese authorities, it is expected that in the first months of 2019 the Central American country will begin to export its products.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The meat products plants which received the endorsement by the General Administration of Customs of China to start selling their products to the Asian giant were Matadero de Chiriquí, S.A. (Machisa), Unión Ganadera, S.A. (Ungasa) and Macello.

You may be interested in "Beef: Increasing Business with the US"

Regarding the process of plant accreditation, Eduardo Carles, Minister of Agricultural Development, explained to Prensa.com that "... Twenty days ago, the inspection process of the beef processing plants began, and of the five visited, three meet the requirements of the Chinese authorities. The other two must make minor adjustments."

Carles added that the Panamanian authorities expect "... that in no more than 60 days the protocols can be ready and in the first quarter of 2019, between January and February, a gradual export of these products begins."

Also see "Central America Consumes More Pork Meat"

Aiming to get the endorsement for the export of other products, the authorities of the Central American country reported that they are also working on the approval of phytosanitary and zoo sanitary protocols, so that in the next few weeks begins the inspection of processing plants for pork, chicken, shrimp, mango, avocado and citrus.



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World’s largest bank plans regional headquarters in Panama capital

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The World’s largest bank is planning to establish a regional headquarter in Panama says the Superintendent of Banks of Ricardo Fernandez

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) is in the process of internal authorizations prior to the request for a general license in Panama that will allow it to operate both inside and outside of the country, said Fernandez.

“A bank of this magnitude is positive for the country because it would bring an important player that will promote more financing from Panama both internally and in the region, it would be a stimulus to the economy and an important player in infrastructure projects”, said Fernandez, who also advanced the interest of a Japanese entity (in an international license.

The superintendent made the statements during the announcements of the First International Banking Congress for Regulators and Bankers, to be held in Panama in  February 2019, with the participation of banking supervisors of the region, risk rating agencies, directors of banks, as well as correspondent and multilateral banks.


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The Cement market is one that Chinese interests are looking to break into and existing players are questioning the quality of their product and demanding standards be imposed.

This article states that there are over 7,000 tonnes or 164,000 sacks of the Chinese stuff currently warehoused near Tocumen. Free samples are being distributed to Chinese building suppliers such as Ferreterias Ivan and Alto Dorado.



Edited by Keith Woolford

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Labor rights, the stumbling block in a new relationship between Central America and China

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 10:41

Diseño sin título_0.jpg

Panama and the rest of the countries of Central America that have embraced China face the challenge of coupling different cultures in all areas, including labor, which may be a stumbling block in this new relationship in the opinion of analysts consulted by EFE.

Panama, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic, which is located in the Caribbean but is politically in the Central American region, a region historically under the control of the United States, also faces Washington's distrust of these new diplomatic ties with China in times of tension between both powers for the commercial issue.

In the last year and a half the three countries broke ties with Taiwan and accepted the "One China" doctrine, which has generally brought great and positive expectations in each other's economic and political sectors, but also some fears about the US reaction, which even called its ambassadors for consultations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday begins an official visit to Panama, historic for being the first of a Chinese president, and does so full of "great expectation", as expressed in a letter published in the local newspaper La Estrella.

Xi asked in his letter to Panama to work "against the clock to achieve the advance in the curve of our links despite its late start" (June 2017), acknowledged "geographical distance" and "multiple differences" between both countries, as well as also that they share entrepreneurial and creative peoples.

The Panamanian internationalist Julio Yao affirmed to EFE that "for Panama it is very important to open relations" with China, "especially symbolized by the presence of President Xi" in the Central American country.

For Yao "there is no doubt" that Panama will be strengthened, thanks to Chinese investments, its logistics center and the financial, banking and domestic production, now famished but can grow because the Central American country "can easily place its agricultural production "in the Asian giant.

But the challenge, "the most important thing, is for China to fulfill what it has already promised: that it will obey the labor laws of Panama," something that depends on Panamanians, he said.

"There can be labor problems if we neglect ourselves and let China do what it likes," said the analyst, a reality that can be applied to all Central American countries that have accepted Beijing.

In this context, Yao pointed to the Panamanian Government as responsible for making "capable, technically qualified and accredited people" available to be "in charge" of projects run by Chinese companies, such as the construction of the fourth bridge on the canal, a work of 1,420 million dollars.

Chinese investments well carried could also generate economic conditions that discourage migration in countries like El Salvador, which together with Guatemala and Honduras make up the Northern Triangle, where each year tens of thousands of people flee violence and poverty towards the U.S.

Thousands of Central American migrants are now in Mexican territory after taking a trip in mid-October, while US authorities have deployed thousands of agents on the southern border to prevent their entry.

The United States should "let China make the investments" that it has in mind in Central America so that "people stay to work" and desist from going to North America, said Yao.

For the former Ambassador of Panama in the Organization of American States, Guillermo Cochez, the cultural clash in labor matters is inevitable with the Chinese.

"I do not trust the Chinese very much, they are totally different from us, they work 20 hours a day, they do not believe in the Labor Code or in human rights," the former diplomat told EFE.

And on the issue of human rights, activist Ti-Anna Wang, daughter of Chinese opposition leader Wang Bingzhang, sentenced to life imprisonment, told EFE in Guatemala that a country with China's economic influence "is very difficult to criticize (...) when China acts against human rights, it practically enjoys the permission of the Western world."



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China and Panama sign 28 cooperation agreements

Presidentt Xi and Varela
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Chinese President  Xi Jinping, and the president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, signed 28 agreements on Monday, December 3  with which they seek to face the challenges of protectionism and promote the liberation of trade in Latin America with Panama as a regional commercial hub.

President Varela, during a  public conference, told media that the relations open a future of growth and prosperity, because “both nations believe in free and fair trade that benefits our peoples and is a key engine for economic growth. and for social development. ‘

Among the agreements signed are protocols that will allow Panama producers to export fruits meat and sea products, to China, these instruments will promote the growth of these productive sectors’, in addition to the educational cooperation agreement that ensures scholarships for higher education for  Panamanians in China, and Chinese in Panama.

Varela, in his speech, said he would soon  know the progress in the feasibility study of the construction of a train that will reach Chiriquí “which is being developed with cooperation funds from the Chinese government.”

He rejected interference from third countries in the relationship between China and Panama, “We are a small country, but worthy and sovereign and our relations will continue to be strengthened and well managed with transparency. I am sure that our relations will not only bring benefits to our people but to our region and the world, guaranteeing greater connectivity.

President Xi said that his country is willing to work with Panama to promote cooperation in the areas of trade, tourism, infrastructure, finance, and cultures to bring greater benefits to both peoples.

“We come to reinforce our communication in international affairs and to deepen the coordination of multilateral forums such as the UN, the WTO, etc. to defend the common interests of developing countries,” said Xi

An understanding between the National Bank and the Development Bank of China, laying the basis for cooperation in the granting of financial services to business projects.

Multiple entry visas for ordinary passport holders. They are stamped visas of multiple entries, which will have a duration of stay that does not exceed 90 days, valid for 5 years.

Agreement that seeks to promote cooperation in science, technology, and innovation, establish a strategic framework through the execution of joint projects for the strengthening of systems in these fields.

Cultural cooperation agreement that promotes collaboration between both countries in art, industries, and cultural heritage, through assistance and collaboration between their artistic groups, museums, libraries.

In environmental matters, with which they will implement projects, research for the prevention and management of air pollution, water, waste and the development of policies and environmental management, education, awareness, mitigation in the face of climate change.



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More Agreements Between Panama and China

Varela administration signed 19 agreements with the Asiatic giant, including the meat, sea and fruit exports from Panama, and technological cooperation mechanisms.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

In addition to the Free Trade Agreement between the two nations, the fourth round of negotiations took place weeks ago, and within the framework of the visit of Chinese President Xin Jinping to Panama, bilateral agreements on tourism, trade and agriculture were signed.

Panamaamerica.com.pa reviews that "... Regarding exports, a protocol was signed on phytosanitary requirements for the export of fresh pineapples, meat, cobia and sea products from Panama to China. Other agreements include cooperation mechanisms in infrastructure, technology and financial services."

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela said that "... he has witnessed the signing of 18 cooperation instruments, in addition to the 28 already signed. We have signed three protocols that will allow our producers to export fruit, meat and seafood products to China."

The article adds that the president of the Asian country "... Xi Jinping noted that China has declared Panama as a tourist destination and highlighted the opening of the first direct flight between China and Central America. President Juan Carlos Varela and Xi Jinping were honorary witnesses of the signing of multiple agreements between officials of both governments."



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