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Panama, Jamaica working on new diplomatic framework - ambassador

Published:Sunday | June 14, 2015 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding
Recently appointed Panamanian Ambassador to Jamaica Alexis Eduardo Sandoval Cajar (right) speaks with The Gleaner at the company’s Kingston offices last Thursday as his interpreter, Corey Whyte, looks on.

Newly installed Panamanian Ambassador to Jamaica Alexis Eduardo Sandoval Cajar has indicated that preparation of a new diplomatic framework for Jamaica and Panama is in an advanced state of readiness.

Sandoval Cajar said both administrations are in the final stage of fine-tuning a new diplomatic machinery to exploit previously unexplored areas of bilateral arrangements.

He told The Gleaner that a legal document is being finalised by his government to be sent for vetting by the Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller-led administration.

"Jamaica and Panama are at the stage of developing a draft legal framework, which is currently in Panama for revision," said Sandoval Cajar, during a visit to The Gleaner's North Street, Kingston, offices last week.

"It will then facilitate bilateral talks between the two countries in the areas of science, tourism, commerce, education, trade, and sports, among others."

Sandoval Cajar, who has been in Jamaica for just over three months, told The Gleaner that he has been in touch with his homeland to keep abreast of the development of the legal framework being established.

Since his arrival in Jamaica, Sandoval Cajar said he has met with Simpson Miller; Finance and Planning Minister Dr Peter Phillips; Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson; as well as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade A.J. Nicholson and his permanent secretary, Ambassador Paul Robotham.

While he was unable to provide specific figures, Sandoval Cajar suggested that a higher number of Jamaicans have settled in Panama because unlike other persons from the region who went to work on the original canal, Jamaicans opted to stay there.

And while Jamaica has sought Panama's expertise in helping it to develop its logistic hub, Sandoval Cajar told The Gleaner that unlike the construction of the canal, not many Jamaicans are involved in the current expansion work.

"Most persons who are involved in the expansion of the canal are Panamanian citizens, many of whom are of Jamaican heritage," he said. "Presently, the work is proceeding smoothly. There were some delays that were caused by industrial action, but it is anticipated that the project will be completed in early 2016."

work far advanced

Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton has said that work is far advanced for further collaboration between Jamaica and Panama towards the development of the island's logistics hub initiative.

"The process is very advanced - a formal agreement between Jamaica and Panama that is ... being worked out," said Hylton in response to questions at the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce-JAMPRO Jamaica logistics hub symposium on January 22 of this year.

Hylton said then that there was already "significant cooperation" between the two countries at the level of education and training, including multilingual skills.

"This is to be developed, and we are working already with Panama to train them to come here for English and we go there for the Spanish. Training (is) already beginning in the zones in the areas that are critical to the success of our logistics hub," said Hylton.

The Jamaica Logistics Hub is central to the Government's economic growth strategy aimed at driving investment and creating sustainable employment over the long term.

Jamaica will seek to capitalise on its prime location for increased maritime and aviation traffic through the region with the opening of the expanded Panama Canal in 2015.

The hub will allow Jamaica to elevate its position in the global value and supply chains, with facilities that feature state-of-the-art special economic zones attracting major transnational manufacturing.

It is also expected to present myriad opportunities for the growth of micro, small, and medium-size businesses through linkages that connect them to global markets.