There was broad support for the decision to throw his lot in with
whose growing global ambitions contrast with U.S. President Donald Trump's
isolationist rhetoric. China
"I'm sure it wasn't an easy decision, given the long-term links we've had with Taiwan, but nonetheless, (China) is a global superpower, the world's No. 2 economy, the second biggest user of the canal - and so we think this is a positive development that will result in more business and investment in Panama," said Inocencio Galindo, president of Panama's Trade, Industry and Agriculture chamber.
The diplomatic U-turn comes as
attempts to position itself as a defender of free trade in the face of the
"America First" policy of Trump, who was elected in November 2016. Chinese
officials also celebrated the news. China
Wang Weihua, the permanent representative in the Office of China-Panama Trade Development and
top representative in the country, said various attempts had been made over the
years without success to establish formal ties. Beijing
has made a big bet on China Latin America,
where it has strategic investments, and ,
which didn't have diplomatic relations, was losing out on those advantages,"
he said in an interview. "Now Panama
will be able to enjoy what our country can offer it in various sectors." Panama
Almost a fifth of the cargo crossing the isthmus last year went to or from
which has been taking an increasing interest in the China Panama
In March, the canal's administrator, Jorge Quijano, said Chinese state firms were considering developing land around the waterway, which was recently expanded. A spokesman for the canal said Quijano would address soon the implications of the diplomatic change for commerce.
According to Panamanian statistics, total trade between
was worth $1.1 billion in 2016 - roughly 12 times the value of the nation's
commerce with China .
Chinese exports accounted for the vast majority of it. Taiwan
Octavio Vallarino, a partner of Desarrollos Bahia, a local real estate firm, said he hoped direct flights would soon be established between the two countries, and that the commercial real estate market would be bolstered by arriving Chinese firms.
Sara Pardo, president of
hotel association, said the accord could help make travel between the two
countries easier. "This is definitely going to strengthen the
economy," she said. Panama
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