Panama readies export protocols ahead of free trade agreement with China

Published on
December 4, 2018

Panama looks set to drastically increase its seafood exports to China as the two countries move to complete a free trade deal.

Panamanian seafood executives and officials met last week in Panama City to study the remaining market entry requirements that need to be signed before exports can be expanded. Panama wants to increase shipments of fruit, vegetables, and seafood to China, according to Gustavo Fadul, a senior official in Panama’s Animal Sanitary Division, which is part of the Panamanian Ministry of Agriculture. 

Fifteen processors joined the meeting, in addition to officials from Panama’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Panama’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has set up a special office in China to become more familiar with the country’s sanitary rules and protocols for seafood imports in advance of the FTA being signed, Fadul said.

At a workshop titled “Mechanisms for Exporting to China," hosted by Panama’s national seafood body, the Autoridad de los Recursos Acuáticos de Panamá (ARAP), Angerith Ruiz, head of sanitary protocols for seafood products at the Ministry of Health, said Panama has already worked to become familiar with Chinese protocols regarding their imports of cobia and bonito. Other products that her office is seeking to export to China include wild and farmed shrimp, tuna, and fishmeal. 

In 2016, Panama implemented ARAP’s Plan of Action for Sustainable Aquaculture and Fishery, which seeks to capitalize on growing demand from Chin.

For its part, China has been seeking to grow its influence in Central and South America. It already has a major presence in Panama’s shipping and infrastructure sectors.

Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China

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