Former top envoy to Panama: Xi's visit a landmark in bilateral ties
China's former envoy to Panama has said that the upcoming visit by President Xi Jinping to the Central American country will strengthen their bilateral ties and help the two sides to take advantage of their huge potential for trade and cooperation.
President Xi will pay an official visit to Panama early next month at the invitation of Panama's President Juan Carlos Varela.
Wang Weihua, China's former charge d'affaires in Panama and former representative of China's Office of Commercial Development in Panama, told China Plus in an interview on Wednesday that President Xi's visit will be a landmark in promoting bilateral collaboration and enhancing mutual understanding between the two countries.
"The visit by President Xi Jinping to Panama is a further step forward since the two countries established their diplomatic ties a year and half ago. The leaders of the two countries will map out the future bilateral relations, providing guidance and laying a solid foundation for a steady and lasting relationship," said Wang.
Wang Weihua, China's former charge d'affaires in Panama and former representative of China's Office of Commercial Development in Panama, during an interview with a China Plus reporter in Beijing on Wednesday, November 29, 2018. [Photo: China Plus]
During his visit, President Xi will hold talks with his counterpart to map out future cooperation. The two sides will also sign cooperation documents in sectors including e-commerce, the trade in services, infrastructure, maritime transport, and education.
President Xi's visit to Panama is the first by a Chinese leader since the two countries established diplomatic relations in June last year. Five months later, during President Varela's visit to China, the two countries signed a series of cooperation agreements covering the Belt and Road Initiative, trade, investment, and maritime and railway transportation.
"The establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Panama has ushered in a new era, providing great opportunities to both countries. For China, we have another friend in Latin America," said China's former top envoy to Panama. "Meanwhile, Panama has been offered more economic and trade benefits."
The national exhibition for Panama at the China International Import Expo in November, 2018. [File Photo: VCG]
China is currently the second-largest user of the Panama Canal. It is also the leading supplier of goods to the Colón Free Zone, the largest free trade zone in Latin America, which is located on Panama's Atlantic coast.
In April, Air China started the first direct flights between Beijing and Panama City, which Wang Weihua believes will fuel the development of the Belt and Road Initiative. "Promoting the Belt and Road means that we are investing in Panama and Latin America, and enhancing comprehensive cooperation," said Wang. "China could help Panama with funding, technology, and talent."
The first direct flight between China and Panama, Air China flight CA885, arrives at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City on April 5, 2018. [File Photo: VCG]
The fourth round of negotiations for the China-Panama Free Trade Agreement wrapped up last week in Panama. The two sides have made positive progress in sectors such as the trade in goods, services, and finance, and in investment and customs procedures. The next round of the negotiations will be held in China.