Minister Tewaney promotes diplomatic and trade ties during meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo

Capping off a busy year for Panama on the international stage, Foreign Minister Janaina Tewaney Mencomo traveled to Washington, DC to meet with U.S. government officials and civil society leaders, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. The visit, a follow-up on Minister Tewaney’s first trip to Washington in November, provided an opportunity to deepen cooperation on the diplomatic, strategic, and economic priorities that Panama and the U.S. have in common, including mitigating the migration crisis, protecting democratic institutions, and ensuring equitable and sustainable economic growth in Latin America. 

During her meeting with Secretary Blinken, Minister Tewaney reiterated the common values that undergird the U.S.-Panama relationship: “We are committed to the rules-based [international] order and the well-being of the international community and the region.” Stemming from these ideals, Minister Tewaney outlined Panama’s leadership in promoting democratic rule in Latin America. The Alliance for Development in Democracy, a joint effort between Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic, has become a beacon of hope in the fight against authoritarianism and instability. The U.S. signed a memorandum of understanding with the Alliance earlier this year to provide further support to its initiatives. 

 As Panamanian authorities estimate over 242,000 migrants will have crossed through Panama by the end of 2022 – an unprecedented number in Panama’s history – Minister Tewaney thanked Secretary Blinken for the U.S.’s partnership as Panama has provided humanitarian care to migrants along the way. “We are trying to encourage the regional community to understand that we can only reach a solution through multilateralism and regional responsibility,” said Tewaney.  

For his part, Secretary Blinken praised Panama’s and the U.S.’ work together “to improve regional security, to strengthen democratic institutions, to advance inclusive economic growth.” This meeting was the latest in high-level diplomatic coordination between the two countries, with more collaboration to come next year.  

Following this meeting, Minister Tewaney met with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, where she stressed the longstanding economic ties between the U.S. and Panama. The U.S. is by far the largest mover of goods through the Panama Canal, accounting for nearly three-quarters of total volume last year. With this vital trade connection as a basis, Minister Tewaney and Secretary Raimondo discussed opportunities for American companies to manufacture and invest in Panama and build more resilient supply chains. They also discussed upcoming talks on the proposed Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity, among other topics. 

Lastly, Minister Tewaney met with John Hamre, President and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), one of the most renowned think tanks in Washington. During this meeting, Minister Tewaney and Mr. Hamre discussed the security landscape in Latin America and how Panama can most effectively collaborate with regional and international partners to promote democratic values. 

Minister Tewaney’s meetings solidified Panama relationship with its most important strategic partner at a time when this partnership will only become more essential. Across migration, regional instability, and incoming economic headwinds, Panama and the U.S. are strongly positioned to face the challenges to come in 2023.