Home / News / World /  Panama to lure Indian investments with prospect of access to Americas, indicates Foreign Minister

Stressing Panama’s geographic location as a gateway to North and South America, the country’s foreign minister Janaina Tewaney Mencomo batted for increased Indian investments in the Central American nation. Mencomo revealed that a business delegation of Indian pharmaceutical companies will be visiting Panama to explore possible investments. Speaking of the broader India-Panama relationship, Mencomo stated that New Delhi’s outreach and focus to Latin America has sharpened in recent years. Mencomo, who is the highest level visitor from Panama in 15 years, also argued her country’s relations with India and China, both of whom are emerging partners, should not be compared to each other.

We have seen a lot of focused Indian engagement with Latin America. What do you think is the reason behind this?

There has definitely been a gradual increase in India’s outreach to Latin America during the last five years. Countries engage on the basis of common interests and values. There has also been increased trade with the region, which may reach around USD 42-43 billion this year. So trade is a common interest but there are also common values. You can see common values since Panama and India are both democracies. There is also a strong influence of the Indian Diaspora in the Caribbean and in Panama itself. Panama was the first diplomatic mission of India in Central America and it remains home to the largest Indian diaspora in Central America. India’s footprint is growing globally and Latin America is a region that Indian business will be thinking of in terms of expansion.

While Latin America is a growing partner, Panama is only India’s 10th largest trade partner in the region. What are the opportunities for bilateral trade and investment?

Trade between Indian and Panama peaked in 2021 at USD 548 million and that is a higher number than some countries that are geographically closer to India. The economic relationship is more strategic. While Panama is a country of only 4.5 million people, it is a door to the region. It is geographically located in such a way that you can reach the United States, Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela in a short time. Panama is also a democracy and its growth is sustainable. Panama also uses the dollar, which makes our economy more stable. When you think about Panama, it’s impossible to think about just numbers. You have to think about the country in a strategic way considering that you can reach the rest of the region from Panama. The country also has the Panama canal and among the best logistics systems in the continent. The strategic asset is to have Panama as a hub and then enter the region.

Are there any key industries that India and Panama are targeting?

I believe there is hope for a lot of cooperation in the pharmaceutical industry. Panama is trying to develop a pharma hub and we have carried out a study by the UN to establish a roadmap to build that. I believe the Indian pharma sector is one of the most important allies of Panama in this.

Panama also has a very small population. We understand that Indian pharma companies are probably going to be more interested in the region broadly and we can offer our help. There is a strong interest in this. We are planning to organize a visit of some major pharma companies to Panama to show what we can offer and understand what these pharma companies need to feel that they are getting a supportive ecosystem for them to produce and re-export in the region.

Another area of cooperation is green hydrogen. Panama is planning to become a hub for hydrogen. Recently, we have noticed that around 29% of the ships crossing the Panama Canal are using diesel fuel. Our interest is to be part of a transformation towards green energy. Before coming to India, I saw that Prime Minister Modi’s cabinet had approved a package to make India a hub for hydrogen. So there are common interests and possibilities to link our efforts. We can do more than what we are doing right now

How do you view India’s outreach in the region when compared with China?

We don’t see a competition between India and China in Latin America. We find that they complement each other. What we get from India is very different from what we get from other countries. We are diversifying and we live in a multipolar world. We cannot have relations with one country and ignore others. Our relations with India don’t need to be measured in comparison with China. Panama’s relations with the United States, China, India and the European Union complement each other.

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.
More Less

Recommended For You

Trending Stocks

Get alerts on WhatsApp
Set Preferences My ReadsWatchlistFeedbackRedeem a Gift CardLogout