As the China-US trade dispute continued to escalate, President Varela winked at China at the Summit of the Americas last month. In a not-so-subtle nod to Beijing, he stated that countries should look to renegotiate trade agreements without generating conflict and that Panama would welcome investment from all countries.
The strategy’s clearly working well for Panama. In the latest sign of China’s growing interest in the Isthmus, the Panamanian-Chinese project to build a 450km passenger train from Panama City to Chiriqui, on the Costa Rican border, is gaining steam, pegged at an initial investment of $5 billion. The High-Level Commission of the Panama-Chiriquí Railway Project has now been launched to coordinate everything related to the feasibility study of the construction project with the Chinese government, establish intellectual property criteria and other related tasks. The commission will be attached to the Ministry of the Presidency. The railway project is part of a long-term plan to link South and North America, as China has done with the China-Europe link.
(Source: La Prensa, via Ministry of the Presidency)
In other news, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) — the largest financial institution in China — will open its first branch in Panama. Another vote of confidence in Panama’s financial system.