Air connections, investment promotion and cooperation in education were the main topics of discussion, when Prime Minister Freundel Stuart met recently with the President of the Republic of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez.
The meeting, which was held at the President’s official residence, Palacio de las Garzas, in Panama City, was one of the highlights of Mr. Stuart’s working visit to that Central American nation.
Prime Minister Stuart outlined the historical, economic and commercial links between Panama and Barbados, dating from the time of the construction of the Panama Canal, when tens of thousands of Barbadians migrated to work on that project.
In furtherance of commercial and business ties between the two countries, he also expressed interest in negotiating an Investment Promotion Agreement with Panama, an initiative that was welcomed by President Varela.
The leaders expressed an interest in strengthening connections, and it was noted that the civil aviation authorities of both countries were negotiating an Air Services Agreement and in-depth discussions were ongoing with COPA airlines.
In addition, talks were held on the possibility of Barbados joining the English-speaking countries which were to receive teachers to be trained in English as part of the Panama Bilingual Programme.
Mr. Stuart also stated that he would be extending an invitation to President Varela to attend the ceremonies commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Barbados’ Independence in 2016.
He took the opportunity to thank the President, Government and people of Panama for the warm hospitality extended to the Barbados delegation during the recently-concluded Summit of the Americas.
In turn, the Panamanian President informed Prime Minister Stuart of the US$500 million project which started in Colón in 2014, and stated that once the project was completed in two years’ time, he wished to invite the CARICOM leaders to a ceremony marking its completion. Colón is a sea port on the Atlantic coast, where many Panamanians of Caribbean ancestry reside.
Mr. Stuart was accompanied to the meeting by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean; Barbados’ Permanent Representative to the Organisation of American States, John Beale; and Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office, Sonja Welch.