Prime Minister Rutte to visit Panama

From Friday 10 to Sunday 12 April 2015, Prime Minister Mark Rutte will visit Panama, on the invitation of President Juan Carlos Varela, to attend the Summit of the Americas, the triennial summit of the Organization of American States (OAS). The visit will also focus on strengthening the Netherlands’ economic ties with Panama. Mr Rutte will kick off a Kingdom-wide trade mission for the maritime and logistics sectors, led by Prime Minister Mike Eman of Aruba.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands and Panama are natural partners. The Port of Rotterdam and Schiphol Airport make the Netherlands the gateway to Europe. And Panama’s famous canal makes it the gateway to Latin America. Panama is working hard to enhance its position as the economic hub of Latin America by investing heavily in infrastructure projects, for example the expansion of the Panama Canal. In preparation for the expansion of the canal, ports in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom are being modernised. Companies from the Kingdom are closely involved in the expansion of the Panama Canal. There are great opportunities for businesses, particularly in the logistics and maritime sectors.

The prime minister’s programme will start on Friday evening, with the opening of the Summit of the Americas. The Kingdom has been a Permanent Observer to the OAS since 1972. At the summit, heads of states and government from the Western Hemisphere discuss common challenges and cooperation in areas such as security, health care and energy. The summit is being held for the seventh time and this year the central theme is ‘Prosperity with Equity: The Challenge of Cooperation in the Americas’. The evening will conclude with a dinner for all the heads of state and government.

On Saturday morning, Mr Rutte will attend the first plenary session of the summit. In the margins of the summit, he will meet with various heads of states and government from the region. He will also attend the signing of several agreements to enhance cooperation between the Kingdom and Panama. The prime minister will end the day with a working dinner to discuss economic and political developments in Panama and the wider region.

On Sunday morning the programme starts with a breakfast meeting with entrepreneurs from the Kingdom who are active in Latin America, working from regional bases in Panama. Mr Rutte will then take part in a round-table meeting with CEOs and managers of companies from the Kingdom, led by the chairman of the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers, Hans de Boer. The meeting will also be attended by Panama’s Minister for Canal Affairs and the CEO of the Panama Canal Authority, Jorge L. Quijano.

In the afternoon, Mr Rutte and Prime Minister of Aruba Mike Eman will visit the artificial island built off the coast of Panama City by Boskalis, a Dutch company. After a tour of the island, Mr Rutte will lay the foundation stone for a second island, to be built this year by Boskalis. Then, at the Panama Maritime World Conference & Exhibition he will kick off a Kingdom-wide trade mission for the maritime and logistics sectors. This four-day mission will be headed by Prime Minister Eman. Mr Rutte’s trip to Panama will end with a visit to the Miraflores locks in the Panama Canal. He will be briefed on the construction of new locks, designed by Dutch engineering company Iv Groep.