The lack of transparency in the relations between Panama and China has being questioned in many Panamanian and foreign sectors and is affecting the trade and diplomatic relations between the United States and Panama. Last week, the American giant accused China of interfering in the upcoming legislative elections with the result of a commercial and political war between the two titans.
In an exclusive interview for Panamatoday.com, we asked the former ambassador of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Panama, Guillermo Cochez, about his opinion about the government decisions, business and agreements with China and he shared with us his doubts and suspicions of those agreements that are being signed between both countries. Cochez has many questions and is very upset about the nature of the relations between China and Panama. "It is a unilateral decision, without any discussion, which was carried out by President Varela, without any consultation with the affected sectors. Suddenly we decided to break relations with Taiwan and take up relations with the Republic of China. I welcomed the measure because it shows that Panama is aligned with the most powerful countries in the world; however, the secrecy of the agreements signed with China, the appointment of a second cousin of the President in the Embassy of Panama in China and the decision that they had taken from giving four hectares in front of the Panama Canal to the embassy of the Republic of China means that we have a relation with China that is mismanaged".
The diplomat believes that the ignorance of the issues discussed in this relation could have a negative impact on the relations with the Americans, "the United States little cares what happens in Panama; it is only interested in the Canal, which is operational and so it works".
He also criticized that Panama did not demand from China before establishing relations the Asians signing of the Pact of Neutrality on the Panama Canal.
Panama and China will begin this Tuesday in Panama City the third round of negotiations for the signing of a free trade agreement (FTA), one year and four months after having entered into diplomatic relations. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MICI) of Panama explained today that the delegations of both countries will discuss during this new stage essential aspects such as trade barriers, customs procedures, intellectual property or electronic commerce.
"We reached the third round after two intense rounds in which the negotiating teams have managed to agree on important aspects, both in form and substance," said Minister of Commerce and Industry Augusto Arosemena in a statement.
The governments of both countries officially launched negotiations on June 12 at a ceremony in Beijing, coinciding with the first anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Panama decided in June 2017 to break with Taiwan and recognize the principle of "one China" , thus becoming the second Central American country, after Costa Rica, to establish diplomatic relations with the Asian giant. The diplomatic turn of Panama and other countries in the region, such as the Dominican Republic and El Salvador, caused the government of US President Donald Trump to call his diplomatic representatives in those countries for consultations on August 7. He accused that Beijing is trying to interfere in the legislative elections next month, and declared that "what the Russians intervention was nothing in comparison" with the Chinese intervention in the political system of the North American country. "The American vice president regretted that the Party The Chinese Communist Party has "convinced Panama, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador" to "break ties with Taipei and recognize Beijing, which threatens the stability of the Taiwan Strait, and the United States condemns them," he added.
Last year, Panama imported goods and services from China worth 1,344 million dollars and exported products worth 42.6 million dollars, including coffee, cattle skins and fishmeal, according to official data.
The Asian country is the first supplier of the Colon Free Zone, the largest free zone in the hemisphere, located in the Panamanian Caribbean, andthe second most important user of the Panama Canal, through which passes about 6 percent of world trade, after the United States.
Con información de EFE