New Panama President Laurentino Cortizo told journalists last week that the country’s relationship with China remains strong and talks continue about a new trade deal.
Cortizo was responding to reports that the relationship may be cooling off. And he made it clear when he was elected earlier this year that he would reconsider the past administration’s approach to China.
But Cortizo made it clear that he expects the relationship to continue to grow, which is an important statement, considering China’s ability to invest in the country. At the same time, Pres. Cortizo emphasized the importance of the relationship with the United States, which is exactly what the business community wants to hear.
When he asked about discussions on a Free Trade Agreement, started under President Juan Carlos Varela, Pres. Cortizo said he plans to evaluate each chapter to “have clarity about where we are going with what has been negotiated so far.”
Cortizo’s comments suggest his Administration will take a very measured and balanced approach to the relationship with both the United States and China. Panama’s historic role has been as a “bridge” he noted in the meeting with reporters.
The President’s meeting with journalists came after China’s ambassador to Panama, Wei Qiang, make similar statements to reporters, emphasizing that China’s relationship with Panama continues forward.
“We are working normally to consider the next steps to be taken” regarding the prospective trade pact, the Chinese ambassador said.