Since President Trump’s term began, his administration has received substantial criticism for its omissive consideration of its strategic, diplomatic and commercial relationships with Latin America. Casual observers may not realize, but Donald Trump’s visit to Argentina for the 2018 G20 Summit is his first visit to the region as President of the United States.
As would be expected, Latin American nations like Chile, Argentina and, increasingly, Central American nations like Panama are opting for deeper ties with China rather than wait for the United States.
“Recent rhetoric from Washington suggests the US has not accepted that the canal has shifted from being a military asset to a commercial one,” said Eddie Tapiero, a competitive intelligence specialist for the Panama Canal Authority and author of a new book on China-Panama relations. “The US has a decision to make: does it accept free trade in the Americas or does it revert to a cold war approach? The latter would be disastrous.”
Negotiations for a free trade agreement between China and Panama are at an advanced stage; Panamanian officials say the country can benefit from its growing role as a regional logistics hub, build its exports to China and protect local farmers.