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Chinese companies interested in using Panama as LatAm entry point

Xinhua | Updated: 2016-12-02 16:19

PANAMA CITY -- Panama's positioning itself as a platform to distribute Chinese goods to Latin America offers a lot of potential, said Wang Weihua, permanent representative of China's Office of Commercial Development in Panama.

"Panama is already acting as a bridge, a window to transit Chinese merchandise to Latin America. I think that, given Panama's logistical development, this role will increase and will be enjoyed by more Chinese companies," he said in an interview with Xinhua on Thursday.

Wang added that Panama is a potential base for manufacturing plants, which is helped by the country's reputation as a logistical center.

According to Wang, the fact that a ship belonging to China's Cosco Shipping was the first to pass through the newly expanded Panama Canal on June 26 attracted a lot of attention to the country.

Wang said that a big Chinese business delegation arrived in Panama this week and visited the Panama Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (CCIAP).

During a meeting with the Chinese business delegation, Nestor Gonzales, Panama's vice minister of foreign trade, said that his government is seeking to get closer to China.

Wang said the Chinese delegation was made up of around 35 Chinese entrepreneurs, led by Zhang Wei, vice president of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT). The delegates mainly come from the telecommunications, banking and construction sectors and expressed a particular interest in investing in the energy and port sectors.

The Chinese delegation will stay in Panama until Friday, when it will visit the Colon Free Trade Zone to learn about its infrastructure and port capacity.

The Colon Free Trade Zone is a large Panamian free port located near the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal, dedicated to re-exporting a wide variety of merchandise to Latin America and the Caribbean.

An agreement was also signed between the CCIAP and the CCPIT to jointly develop business and to seek opportunities to expand Panamanian exports to the Chinese market.

"Business between the Americas and China will continue to grow, representing a big opportunity for SMEs (small and medium enterprises)," Jorge Garcia, president of the CCIAP, told the Chinese delegation during the meeting.

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