Panama president seeks visa-free status for nationals

Panama president seeks visa-free status for nationals

Saturday, October 23 2010 @ 02:05 PM EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
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By Shih Hsiu-chuan – Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli yesterday called on the Taiwanese government to grant visa-free status to Panamanian citizens in return for the measures his government has put in place for Taiwanese tourists. Currently, Taiwanese citizens who visit Panama need only obtain a tourist card at the airport to enter the country for a period of 30 days, extendable to 90 days. Addressing a forum in Taipei to promote trade and investment opportunities in Panama, Martinelli said he very much hoped that Taiwan would grant visa–exemption privileges to Panamanians. The first Panamanian leader to visit in six years, Martinelli yesterday wrapped up his three-day state visit, the last stop of a three-nation Asia tour that also took him to Singapore and South Korea to boost economic ties.
Martinelli said he had suggested that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and his officials should provide tax incentives for Taiwanese businesses to encourage them to consider Panama as a base for their investments. “Panama is a country full of business opportunities and its strategic geographical location makes it a world-class multi-modal transportation hub, and we have supported Taiwan without reservation,” he said. Martinelli invited Taiwanese to participate in his country’s expansion plans for the Panama Canal, two mass rapid transit systems, three international airports, eight hospitals, and hundreds of public infrastructure projects.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs said that investments from Panama totaled U$830 million, while Taiwanese investment in Panama stood at US$1.3 billion. In the joint communique signed by Ma and Martinelli on Friday, the two countries agreed to first work on a waiver of visa requirements for officials holding service passports and diplomatic passports. (Taipei Times)

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