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Varela completes historic visit to China with agreements that will mark a "milestone"

The president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, culminated today a historic state visit to China, the first of a Panamanian leader after the establishment of bilateral relations and after the which is expected to start a new fruitful stage of relations with the Asian giant.

Shanghai (China), Nov 21 (EFE) .- The president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, today completed a historic state visit to China, the first of a Panamanian president after the establishment of bilateral relations and after which it is expected to start a new successful stage of relations with the Asian giant.

It has been six intense days in which the president has sealed its approach to China with the opening of an embassy in Beijing and a consulate in Shanghai and the signing of 19 bilateral agreements.

This approach "has had a fruitful start and we will achieve important milestones in commercial, financial, maritime, political and cooperation matters, "said Varela today before a group of businessmen in one of his last activities, which has took place in the city of Shanghai (east).

Last June, Panama announced the recognition of the "one China" principle and the cessation of diplomatic relations that it maintained. until then with Taiwan, starting a new stage in the relationship between the two countries.

This new situation, said Varela today, will have "a global impact" and demonstrates what important that it is "to impose dialogue on confrontation" and to "make it clear that the capacities of the states should be used only to solve the problems of the inhabitants and not for face each other. "

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Varela, who has traveled to China accompanied by several of his ministers, witnessed last Friday in Beijing the signature of nineteen cooperation memoranda between the two nations, among which the possible establishment in the future of a free trade agreement stands out.

This would reinforce the current China's position as second client of the Panama Canal and first supplier of goods for the Panamanian Colon Free Zone.

The memorandums have been the result of five months of talks between the two nations and contemplate sectors such as transport (maritime, rail and air), agriculture, international trade, investment, electric transmission and tourism, especially Chinese citizens who want to travel to the Central American country.

Precisely today was held in Shanghai the PanamaFest, a tourism promotion event that Varela attended and in which the cultural wealth of the Central American country was highlighted, which has strong historical ties with China due to the migration of Chinese to Panama in the last two centuries.

These days it was also announced that the state airline Air China will start operating direct flights between China and Panama with a stopover in Houston (USA) starting in March. 2018.

During the visit, Varela and his delegation have held numerous economic meetings with a common goal: to present Panama as China's platform for Latin America thanks to the The country's central position in the region and the Canal.

"Panama will be the point of entry for many Chinese companies in the Latin American region," the president said. occasions.

The Central American country is still China's eighth trading partner in the Latin American and Caribbean region, with a total of thirty Chinese companies operating in its territory, a number that is expected to increase in the near future.

Today there are Chinese companies that build a cruise port in Panama, as well as water and housing projects, or they are established in the Colon Free Zone, with investments that totaled 1,000 million dollars until the establishment of diplomatic relations in June.

The president Panamanian and his delegation traveled yesterday to Shanghai on the high-speed train to see first-hand the Chinese system, the largest in the world, and try to apply it to the project of a fast line of passengers and merchandise to neighboring Costa Rica, from where it could be extended later to the rest of Mesoamerica, a project for which Varela expects Chinese support.

Paula Escalada Medrano

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