(Yicai Global) Aug. 1 -- Since establishing diplomatic relations, Panama and China have been furthering cooperation in various sectors, with shipping and tourism set to be the key for their next partnership in economy and trade, said Any Lam Chong, charge d'affaires of the Panamanian Ambassador to China.
Panama hopes to further facilitate cooperation with China and Latin America through free trade agreements, she added.
Negotiations for the agreements are already underway, state-owned news agency Xinhua quoted Lam as saying. Chinese commodities are already a major part of the Colon Free Trade Zone, and have spread across Latin America. A Panama-China free trade agreement will play a critical role in helping Chinese commodities access the South American market and taking Panamanian products to China.
After signing a joint communique on the establishment of diplomatic relations on June 13, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela sent a working group to China to negotiate on cooperation in sectors like shipping, economy and trade, finance and cultural education, Lam said.
Shipping and tourism will be the main focus of the economic and trade cooperation, she added, with Panama hoping this will boost its economic growth.
As many Chinese firms have set up branches in Panama to engage in local infrastructure projects and Latin America is a natural extension of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Panama will consider how to get involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, Lam continued.
Panama set up the Panama-China Trade Development Office in the 1990s. In 2014, Chinese-Panamanian born Lam was appointed as the office's representative. During her time she has been an active facilitator for the pairs' cooperation in various sectors and has expedited their diplomatic relations.