BEIJING – China’s President Xi Jinping is expected to strengthen bilateral cooperation with Panama during a trip to the Central American nation next week, his first since the two countries established diplomatic relations last year, the foreign ministry said on Friday.
Xi is due to travel to Panama on Dec. 2-3 to meet his counterpart Juan Carlos Varela to solidify relations which began in June 2017, when Panama ended its diplomatic relationship with Taiwan in favor of closer ties with Beijing.
Xi’s visit hopes to further improve bilateral relations, which have “advanced rapidly and efficiently” over the past year, the ministry said.
Xi and Varela are expected to sign a number of cooperation agreements on e-commerce, trade services, infrastructure, maritime transport, finance, culture and education apart from other areas.
The Chinese president will arrive in Panama after participating in the G20 summit in Argentina.
Varela had carried out a state visit to China towards the end of 2017, after the Central American country ceased diplomatic relations with Taiwan in order to start ties with Beijing in recognition of the “One China” principle.
The Panamanian president said Thursday that he was very happy with Xi’s “unprecedented” and “crucial” visit, and called it an achievement for Panama’s foreign policy.
China is currently the second most important user of the Panama Canal after the United States and the biggest supplier to the Colon Free Trade Zone, on Panama’s Caribbean coast.
Both countries are in the fourth round of negotiations to sign a free trade deal.