The President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, has arrived in Israel in order to reinforce the economic relations between the two countries. During the visit, a bilateral free-trade agreement will be signed for the first time between Panama and Israel. This is the first agreement of its kind to be signed by Israel with any country in Latin America.
During his visit, President Varela will be accompanied by the Vice President of Panama, Isabel Saint Malo, Augusto Arosemena, the Minister of Commerce & Industry; the Minister of Agriculture Development, Enrique Charles, as well as a delegation of businessmen.
A special economic event held at the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv, at the invitation of the President of Panama, for the purpose of exposing Panama to investments. Panama's Ambassador to Israel, Mrs. Adis Urieta Vega, advised that among the subjects which were presented at the Conference are: cyber protection, tourism, medical devices, clean technology, and water.
The president of Panama, H.E. Mr. Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez, visited Israel for several high-level meetings, and to advance diplomatic and economic cooperation between the two nations.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Varela at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem. They held both a private meeting and an expanded meeting with their entourages. During the meetings, the following were signed:
* A bilateral free trade agreement – The agreement will lift restrictions on trade between Israel and Panama, in both directions, and enable free trade.
* A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on establishing a center for agricultural excellence in Panama. Israel will establish in Panama a center that will combine Israeli technologies and training. This would be the first such center in Latin America and is expected to significantly assist agriculture in Panama.
During his visit, President Varela visited Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, toured the Holocaust History Museum, participated in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, visited the Children's Memorial, and signed the Yad Vashem Guest Book.
As a guest of the Keren Kayemet Le’Israel-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), President Varela planted a tree in the Grove of Nations in Jerusalem as part of his first official visit to Israel. President Varela also requested the help of KKL-JNF in order to plant a forest the size of “one million hectares”in Panama, utilizing the professional knowledge and international experience KKL-JNF holds in the field of forestation.
In addition, President Varela and his wife Mrs. Lorena Castilla de Varela joined Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and his wife Nehama for a dinner in their honor at the President’s residence.
Panama is located in the center of the American continent, which makes this a strategic location. Panama has a sophisticated banking system, has had a fully-dollarized economy (since 1904), a sympathetic government and extensive trade relations with the entire continent. It is considered to be the Latin investment capital. The expansion of the Canal and the establishment of the Diamond Exchange in the country – are opening up business opportunities in these areas as well. Panama has the second largest free-trade zone in the world.
Photos by Silvia G. Golan