Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal’s visit to Vietnam from October 24 – 27 is expected to further cooperation in fields of each side’s strength and step up the implementation of signed agreements in agriculture, science – technology and maritime.

This will be the first visit to Vietnam by a head of State of Panama since the two countries established diplomatic ties on August 28, 1975.

Vietnam officially opened its embassy in Panama in 2002 while the Central American country established the embassy in Vietnam in 2006. The two nations have exchanged a number of high-level visits, including the September, 1975 and 2002 visits to Panama by Chairman of Ministers’ Council Pham Van Dong and Foreign Minister Pham Dy Nien.

Panama ’s Ministers of Agricultural Development Guillermo Salazar and Victor Perez visited Vietnam in June, 2008 and in March, 2010, respectively.

The two countries have signed a number of cooperation agreements, including a visa waiver pact for diplomatic and official passport holders, a framework agreement on science-technology cooperation, a maritime transport deal, and a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the two agriculture ministries.

Two-way trade between Vietnam and Panama has surged in recent years, from 50 million USD in 2005 to 245 million USD in 2011. The figure hit 120.3 million USD during the first half of this year, with Vietnam enjoying a trade surplus from key items like timber, footwear, handicrafts, bamboo goods, and agricultural machinery.

The two nations have potentials and demand for cooperation in maritime transport, agriculture and traditional medicine. Panama is investing in 9 projects worth over 51 million USD in Vietnam .

At regional and multilateral forums, the two countries frequently share opinions and support each other. Panama is one of the first countries that supported Vietnam in joining the World Trade Organisation and running for a non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council for the 2008 – 2009 tenure. Panama recognised Vietnam as a market economy in September, 2010.-VNA