In the News from Panama

Panama Moves to Strengthen Ties to Japan

Top Panama officials were in Japan last week, working to strengthen the economic ties between the two countries. Japan is already a key partner, but the relationship is growing and it could be lucrative for the future of Panama.

Last year Japan agreed to finance the $2.55 billion construction of Line 3 of the Panama metro, which is the biggest infrastructure project in Panama since the Panama Canal expansion.

Panama vice president Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado met with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono in Tokyo to discuss further expansion of Japan’s investment in Panama. During the visit, Japan automaker Honda announced plans to establish a facility in Panama for the first Latin America maintenance center for HondaJet aircraft.

“The company needed a central point and Panama, with its geopolitical, economic and security features to invest in, became the most suitable place to install the first service center for Honda’s executive aircraft,” HondaJet Sales Manager for Middle Americas Guillermo Suárez told reporters.

Honda has already established working agreements with the Technological University of Panama for support.

“We will have a program of internships with related careers of aeronautical maintenance that gives the Technological University of Panama, we will give an opportunity to the national talent so that they can work with Honda,” Suárez said.

The growing relationship with Japan illustrates that, in many ways, Panama is only starting its economic expansion. As the economic hub for the region, Panama is poised to become a key trading partner with Asia. Earlier this year Panama launched a formal diplomatic relationship with China, which should have a long-term economic benefit for the country.

 De Saint Malo also visited South Korea on her trip and participated in the 8th Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation.