Biden in Panama Talks Economic Cooperation, Panama Canal Expansion Impact
Vice President Joe Biden met with Panama President Ricardo Martinelli on Nov. 19 and discussed US-Panama economic cooperation and the ongoing expansion of the Panama Canal, according to a White House statement. Martinelli praised the strategic value of the US-Panama relationship and the economic advantage presented by the canal expansion following his meeting with Biden. Biden said the canal expansion is valuable to Panama, but is also a “consequential investment” in the future of the United States. The leaders met in Panama City for bilateral meetings, according to a statement from the White House. The US is Panama's largest trading partner; US-Panama trade totaled more than $10 billion in 2012, according to the White House. The US-Panama Free Trade Agreement went into effect on Oct. 31, 2012. Traveling with Biden for the tour of the canal was Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rollins-Blake. At the conclusion of their meeting, Biden and Martinelli also announced joint efforts to expedite travel between the US and Panama beginning Jan. 1, 2014, by allowing expedited clearance for pre-approved travelers. Panama is the newest member of the US Global Entry program, Biden said, “a reflection” of the US-Panama relationship.