CARICOM Today:– The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on Thursday 13 September 2018 formalised diplomatic ties with Panama, accrediting the first Ambassador of the Central American country to the Community.
CARICOM Secretary-General, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, received the letter of credence of Her Excellency Soraya Cano Franco during a short ceremony at the Headquarters of the CARICOM Secretariat, in Georgetown, Guyana.
He said Panama and the Community have had strong people to people contact since the 19th Century with thousands of Caribbean workers, mainly from Jamaica, Barbados and Saint Lucia, involved in the building of Panama’s Railroads and later the Panama Canal. Today, their descendants are part of a vibrant Caribbean community in Panama, he added.
He noted the high value CARICOM placed on this relationship, which has been strengthening over the years. Panama has bilateral relations with several CARICOM Member States. CARICOM and Panama are also members of sub-regional, regional and hemispheric organisations such as the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the United Nations (UN).
The Secretary-General highlighted the critical role Panama plays in strengthening trade and commerce through Copa Airlines and the Panama Canal. He commended the Government of Panama on the Canal’s expansion noting that it will meet the growing demand of maritime trade for the whole world, while opening new opportunities, for the Panamanian people, and the wider sub-region.
Secretary-General LaRocque noted that Panama’s ready assistance and support to the countries affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria last year, demonstrated the strength of its ties with the Community.
He said in the areas where they faced similar challenges, Panama and CARICOM could help to address those hurdles by speaking with one voice in international fora on issues of mutual interest and importance to their continued development. Among those matters was the issue of being labelled as non-cooperative tax jurisdictions which has targeted Panama and some of the Member States of the Community.
“We are concerned that the organisations claiming to set global standards in international tax matters do so without countries, such as ours, having a voice in the process.
We should join hands to advocate against the unjust and onerous demands on our financial sectors,” Secretary-General LaRocque told the newly accredited Panamanian envoy.