China is for Panama and the rest of Latin America an opportunity to "grow to do business at a very high level" without fear of falling into the hands of an empire, or an invasion, although it requires an accelerated process of education and institutional growth to have a treatment of equals.
This was said by Efe Panamanian economist Eddie Tapiero, author of the book The Silk Road and Panama, presented on Wednesday in the Panamanian capital, and member of the Panamanian negotiating team of a free trade agreement (FTA) with China.
This financial strategist of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), currently "lent" to the negotiating team of the FTA, explained that "the main discovery" he made in the five years of research to write the book "was to understand the dialogue" What motivates La Franja and the route proposed by China to Latin America as an integration mechanism.
"The benefit of joining the route creates a dialogue between countries that reduces the possibility of war, improving trade, maybe it has always been there, but seeing it differently, the more dialogue I have between countries, the fewer opportunities there are a war, "he said.
However, he acknowledges that the current trade war between the United States and China – which is affecting Panama Canal revenues – is because "there is a lot of discontent, a tiredness with the system and it was coming, there is going to be a restructuring" in the world trade.
"The United States is seeing the opportunities because by the year 2030, 59 percent of the middle class will be in Asia, the US knows that its industrial base is very small, maybe it is adjusting that base to serve Asia." Indian.
Tapiero, who stressed that these are times of pragmatism, points out that Latin America has to "look for opportunities, be aware and keep us in that, not by hearing the noises letting opportunities pass, China has not invaded other countries, it is a strategic ally for any country".
In this context, he believes that Panama "has the opportunity to become a facilitator of trade, neutral, sovereign and friend of the two countries, has great potential", and both China and the US are its main clients in the waterway.
The La Franja and La Ruta initiative "ends up presenting a model on the opportunities that exist so that all countries can take advantage of this, and the demands of being strong in the government, of staying with better governance, with democracy, maintaining the sovereignty, order, growth at another level, leaving populist policies on the other side, "he warned.
Panama can negotiate the export of pineapple to China and in turn buy it in Costa Rica and Colombia and give it added value to place it already peeled, cut and packed, "and we all win".
Tapiero explained that the history of China "has many similarities with that of Panama, the conquest, the colony, the hegemony, we have been almost in balance in something that makes us Latin Americans understand it".
But, "from China you see only two things, fear and uncertainty due to lack of information, our culture is not integrated, so that governments understand and can make decisions."
He acknowledged that respect for human rights "has always been an issue that is touched, historically it is a very large society, there have been things (abuses)", but for five years "that has changed" because "now it is no longer spoken of China as the first country in violations of human rights. "
Tapiero said that the upcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Panama will be "to ensure friendship, China works with the concepts of trust, identity, mutual respect and equality."