Dec. 15, 2015

Isabel Saint Malo de Alvarado


Isabel Saint Malo de Alvarado

Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Panama

"Possible joint efforts to foster market integration through greater economies of scale will be the focus."


Isabel Saint Malo de Alvarado is the Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs and has over 20 years of experience in consulting, development, and implementation of public policies in Latin America. Following her election as Vice President and her appointment as Foreign Minister, she became the first woman to hold both positions in the history of her country.

How would you assess the diplomatic relationship between Panama and Peru?

Panama and Peru have a strong bilateral relationship, built on long-standing historical ties as well current complementarities between both economies. As a key services provider, Panama complements Peru's prowess as a major exporter of commodities and light manufacturing and importer of value-added goods. In fiscal year 2015, over 19 million tons of goods transited the Panama Canal on their way to or from Peruvian ports, making the country the Canal's fifth-largest user. A free-trade accord between both countries has been in effect since 2012, bolstered by other agreements regarding air-services and suppression of tourist and business visas. In July 2014, the Panama-Peru Chamber of Commerce was set up and now encompasses 24 members. Beyond commerce, both countries cooperate extensively on several fronts, including agriculture, measures against drug trafficking, and security.

What sectors of Peru's economy are appealing for Panamanian companies and what advantages does Peru offer Panamanian investors?

Food and industrial processing are the most appealing to Panamanian companies due to Panama's exports towards Peru, mainly animal and vegetable oils. Beyond these, there are other primary products that can be processed in the Peruvian manufacturing sector. In another crucial area, Peru's consistently strong performance, leading to an investment-grade status, makes the country an attractive magnet for investment in financial services.

What areas of bilateral trade have the most potential for growth?

Maritime services, including ship repair and other logistics services related to Peruvian vessels, is one potential area for growth, especially in light of the Panama Canal expansion. Tourism is another area to continue exploring, not just bilaterally. Panama's air connectivity means a greater influx of tourists from Europe, North America, and the Middle East, potentially destined for other countries in the region, including Peru.

What will be the focus of bilateral relations over the medium term?

Possible joint efforts to foster market integration through greater economies of scale will be the focus. There is much potential in deepening cooperation in sectors such as mining, agriculture, and light industry.