September 23, 2020

Colombia prioritizes electric interconnection with Panama

Colombia prioritizes electric interconnection with Panama

The Colombian government has as a priority to achieve the electrical interconnection with Panama "in the medium term", and then contemplate the opening of the Darién Gap, said today the ambassador of Colombia in the Central American country, Juan Claudio Morales.

"We have always been on the subject of Darién, as a result of history, obviously it is a very sensitive issue, but where we are working now and we want to carry it out, we have already negotiated with three governments, it is the electrical interconnection to medium term, "the diplomat told Efe.

The interconnection is a project of nearly 500 million dollars that dates back to 2009 and has been suspended indefinitely since August 2012.

The route of the interconnection "has advanced very well, it has already been defined where it goes, partly underwater, we have to contemplate the nature reserves, but this year there has been a lot of progress between the Ministry of Energy of Colombia and Panama, and we are going ahead because Panama is very interested, "Morales said.

"The idea is that it is for the Caribbean, that it enters the sea and then continues to increase energy to Central America and we want to make it part of the Mesoamerica project," the ambassador explained.

He added that "once we have the electrical interconnection, later we could start looking at the road and suddenly, even, a train to communicate and move goods", through the Darién.

Morales participated on Wednesday in an intense day of "fintech" in which twelve large Colombian companies presented their offers to their Panamanian counterparts, especially the banking and financial sector, of tools to boost digitization.

"Procolombia is the muscle today for all our embassies because it helps us handle the whole issue of companies and Colombian investment in different countries, and here in Panama it is essential to have them help," he said.

The Colombian investment promotion agency had been absent from Panama for about two years.

"We realize the banking that is in Panama, 30 percent of Panamanian banking is Colombian, it is a very important niche for us and the innovative projects in technology and banking we have, we are the third country that produce these projects in Latin America ", summarized.

He said that "we brought twelve Colombian software companies, in 'fintech', to start working with Colombian banks and Panamanian companies and have a stronger position and invest."

In addition to the "historical ties" with Panama, "we have a very strong community, we believe that we have more than 300,000 Colombians living here, one hundred Colombian companies in all fields", which, without counting the oil and minerals, have an exchange commercial "of about 500 million dollars per year," he explained.

In Panama, "we used it as a hub to enter Central America, we have entered Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica, and we have done very well," he said.

He added that if commercial disputes between the two countries pending in the World Trade Organization (WTO) are resolved by tariffs on exports of textiles and shoes from Panama, "you could ratify quickly" the bilateral free trade agreement, pending from more than five years ago.

"We have sensitive issues in financial information and very sensitive in customs information, that has limited us a bit the issue of investment," he said, something that will reverse if they are solved, he said.

He said that "we are currently bidding on the fourth line of electricity, we have several interests in several areas, but we are working" to resolve the pending issues.

He recalled that the visit of President Ivan Duque to Panama, two months ago, was the first official he made as head of state abroad. "It was a very clear message for Panama of friendship and cooperation," he said.


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