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Panama and China sign accord on maritime transport

Panama and the People’s Republic of China have signed an agreement on maritime transport.

The agreement was signed in presence of China’s president Xi Jiping and Panama’s president Juan Carlos Varela during the first Panamanian official visit to China, after having established diplomatic relations between the two countries last June.

Panama’s Minister of Maritime Affairs Jorge Barakat and China’s Minister of Transport Li Xiaopeng put their signature on the accord which marks a milestone in the maritime relations of both countries as it will “enhance the cooperation and development in moving commercial vessels between the two countries facilitating cargo and passengers transport.”

Minister Barakat who is also administrator of the Panama Maritime Authority and head of the Panama Ship Registry said that such accord will help “promoting maritime and port development of Panama and China, strengthen [our] Ship Registry and support the Chinese Maritime Authority in the maritime safety issues of Panama-flagged vessels sailing in its waters.”

“It is the commencement of a fruitful cooperation for China and Panama maritime sectors that will benefit from this accord as it opens a new era for our Ship Registry that is granted “the Most Favoured Nation” treatment with regard to access to [Chinese] ports,” he added. The Panama-flagged vessels will enjoy the advantages and lower port costs applicable to other States which have similar agreements with China. The agreement includes transfer of knowledge and technical control of ships’ documentation and crews on board of Panamanian vessels.

Barakat also underlined a future increase of participation of Chinese seamen on Panama-flagged vessels and the recognition of several maritime training centres from China “as part of our international expansion strategy.”

Panama will be able to register shipping companies and Chinese-owned vessels and the services of naval mortgage and property titles, in the main cities of China as Panama will be qualified to establish technical offices in China for the control of maritime safety and navigation of its vessels since Panama will soon open several consulates in China. Last week, Panama opened its first Embassy in Beijing and its first Consulate in Shanghai.

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