PANAMA CITY, Panama – The Cayman Islands Trade Mission to Panama got under way Tuesday night with a welcome reception at the Intercontinental Hotel in Panama City.
After introductions by Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce CEO Wil Pineau and a greeting by Chamber President Morgan DaCosta, Panama’s Vice-minister of Foreign Trade Carmen Gisela Vergara said Panama welcomed the opportunity to strengthen the political and commercial ties with Cayman, adding ‘Panama is open for business.’
Cayman Governor Stuart Jack spoke and called Panama a forward-looking Government that is supportive of business. ‘We have a lot two look forward to over the next few days.’
Minister of Tourism Charles Clifford said there was the potential for many opportunities in Panama for Cayman.
‘I look forward to the positive things that can come out of this,’ he said.
British Ambassador in Panama James Malcolm and Panama’s National Director Export and Investment Promotion Julio Fabrega received presentations from the Chamber of Commerce.
More than 100 delegates from Cayman made the trip to Panama. Others from the Cayman Islands Government include Minister of Health Anthony Eden, Minster of Works Arden McLean, and Sister Islands MLA Moses Kirkconnell.
The delegates have a wide variety of reasons for making the trip.
Health Services Authority Chairman Pastor Al Ebanks came to Panama to tour a new hospital called Punta Pacifica built in affiliation with Johns Hopkins Hospital in the United States. The $65 million facility, which is the first digital hospital in the Caribbean region, officially opens on 13 March. Staffed mostly with Panamanian doctors trained in the United States or Europe, the hospital hopes to attract patients from the Caribbean region.
Sean Ebanks of Silver City said he was going to have a good look around Panama.
‘The link between Asia and the rest of the world is Panama,’ he said. ‘If we are going to be in on that in the future, it’s important to establish links here.
‘Plus, it’s so close to home.’
Tortuga Rum Company’s Robert Hamaty is looking to Panama as a potential export market for rum cakes and other Tortuga products.
‘There are already three people that have an interest,’ he said.
In addition, someone else has expressed an interest in manufacturing Tortuga Rum cakes in Panama under licence, Mr. Hamaty said.
Off the Peg’s Karen Marshall hopes to investigate Panama and make new contacts for sources of clothing and handbags, which she imports mostly from the United States. Ms Marshall is not sure what she’ll find, but she’s optimistic. ‘I’ve heard good reports.’
Woody Foster of Foster’s Food Fair and Priced Right is not to sure he can find many food items that could be imported to Cayman through Panama, but he’s meeting with a seafood distributor during the trip.
He’s also looking for sources of brand-named goods for Priced Right. He’s not sure how successful the trip will be in that regard. ‘The proof is in the pudding,’ he said. ‘I’ll let you know in three days.’