In the News from Panama

U.S. Secretary of State Heading for Panama

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken will visit Panama later this month to participate in a regional meeting on a variety of issues, the government announced this week.

Panama Foreign Minister of Panama Erika Mouynes said the high-level meeting will represent the “strengthening” of the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Panama. While Panama sits in a unique international position, the United States remains our biggest trading partner and supporter.

The visit by Secretary Blinken is a further sign that communications remain strong and the current administration is focused on the region. The main topic of the meetings will be migration, and include foreign ministers from around the region, Mouynes told local station TVN. She said the dialogue is an example of “how Panama has articulated regionally” the approach to the migration crisis, as well as “the excellent relationship we have at this time with the United States.”

The U.S. has not had an ambassador to Panama since 2018, during the Trump administration, but there is a constant ongoing dialogue, Mouynes said. Last year there were more than 60 meetings between Panamanians and top-level U.S. authorities, in an effort to grow the relationship. Mounynes said she has met with Blinken several times.

The region has made “progress”  on the migratory issue, which “is a priority for the U.S., she said.

“Today I feel very comfortable with the relationship we have with the United States,” Mounynes told the station, according to coverage in La Estrella. “I feel very comfortable with the strengthening” of bilateral ties,” she added. 

There are many high-level issues for the two countries to discuss. In mid-March, the government of President Laurentino Cortizo formally asked the United States to review the terms and conditions of the tariff reduction schedule of the Trade Promotion Agreement (TPC), in force since 2012, in order to “protect local production of rice, milk and its derivatives, and chicken and pork meat,” La Estrella reports

“I hope from Panama’s most important partner, a strategic partner of a country that has proven to be an ally, that they review it (the request) well and that we can sit down as partners, face to face, to seek a solution to a country that has shown that it is an ally in the region,” Cortizo said at the time.