WTO members are now considering how to make progress in areas where Panama has played an active role, most notably services, which accounts for approximately 70% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), DG Azevêdo noted.
In addition, Panama has ratified the WTO’s new Trade Facilitation Agreement, which will bring real benefits to the country through lower trade costs, greater diversification of the economy and increased participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in global trade, he said.
DG Azevêdo’s visit is his first to Panama as head of the WTO. During his stay, he toured the new expanded locks of the Panama Canal, a $5.25 billion project which formally began commercial operation in June 2016.
The new and improved Canal “is symbolic of the importance of international trade to Panama,” he declared.
DG Azevêdo encouraged Panama to continue its active participation in the run-up to the WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires next December.
“I hope that Buenos Aires is part of a process where members continue to move towards more understanding, more cooperation and more global trade,” he said.
DG Azevêdo met with Isabel de Saint Malo, Vice President of Panama, as well as Minister of Commerce Augusto Arosemena. He also met with representatives from the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama.