In mid-June 2017, Panama and China announced the establishment of full diplomatic ties for the first time, promising a more robust diplomatic and commercial relationship between the two countries.
During Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela's first official visit to China in November 2017, the two nations inked a Maritime Transport Agreement, promising increased cooperation in the field of maritime trade. Currently, China is the second most active user of the Panama Canal. Under the terms of the agreement, Panamanian-flagged ships will enjoy "most favored nation" status in China, which will allow them to take advantage of low tariffs, high import quotas and other preferential rates when calling upon Chinese ports once the agreement comes into effect.
On 27 March 2018, the Panamanian government officially approved the agreement by publishing Law No. 24 of 20 March 2018.
The Maritime Transport Agreement is now awaiting ratification by China, and will come into force 30 days after China gives notice of having done so.
Duane Morris & Selvam will continue to monitor for developments and will provide another Alert once the date of implementation is known.
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