UAE picks Panama as Latin America growth hub
Shaikh Abdullah expressed the UAE's interest in cooperation with Panama in areas of common interest, such as banking, logistics, energy, airports and infrastructure.
The visit by Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister, to Panama ended with the creation of a joint cooperation committee on trade and investment. The committee will serve as "the legal base for launching joint investment projects, including the participation of Emirati companies in public tenders of this government's five-year investment plan, especially in the areas of energy and shipping cooperation," said Panama's vice-president and foreign minister Isabel de Saint Malo.Areas of Interest include: Banking, logistics, energy, airports and infrastructure. Shaikh Abdullah expressed the UAE's interest in cooperation with Panama in areas of common interest, such as banking, logistics, energy, airports and infrastructure.
In a joint Press conference, Shaikh Abdullah said the UAE is not only interested in studying initiatives to be carried out in Panama, but also in pushing ahead with projects that would reach out to other markets from this Central American country. The new committee "will promote and coordinate programmes on the political, economic, trade, cultural, judicial, security, social, environment, tourism, technology and humanitarian aid fronts and in other areas of interest" to the two countries.
Shaikh Abdullah was visiting Panama as part of a Latin America tour that also took him to Argentina and Colombia and ended on Friday in Costa Rica. Prior to the signing of the accord creating the committee, the two ministers held a private meeting in Panama's foreign ministry, before presiding over a meeting with their dele- gations. The UAE's decision to open an embassy in Panama in 2017 was confirmed during the meetings, while Panama will upgrade its consulate in the Gulf nation to an embassy.
In November 2014, De Saint Malo visited Abu Dhabi, where she was received by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, leading to a strengthening of ties between the two countries.
That same year, negotiations began on three bilateral agreements: the elimination of the visa requirement, investment protection and aviation. An agreement has been reached to start a direct flight between Panama City and Dubai. To be operated by Emirates, it will begin on March 31 and will be the longest direct flight in the world, lasting for nearly 18 hours, according to the airline. Panama will be the first Central American country with a flight to Dubai.
According to a statement from Panama's foreign ministry, the air link between the two countries is important because "it opens the doors to innumerable economic, trade and cultural opportunities and lays the foundation for the possible establishment of the headquarters of multinational companies." De Saint Malo said there are important similarities between Panama and the UAE, especially in logistics and the shipping business, in foreign direct investment and as countries that promote peace and stability. "With the opening of the two embassies, not only will these projects quickly take shape, but it makes us gateways to Latin America and the Middle East, respectively," she said. Shaikh Abdullah said the UAE's hub offers aid to Southeast Asia and Africa, among other regions, and that its experience could support Panama's hub.