Minister of International Transport, George Hutson, is pictured as he presents a book entitled "The Silver Men: West Indian Labour Migration to Panama 1850 -1914", written by Senator Velma Newton, to Ambassador Arlina Gonzales Costa during a courtesy call yesterday at the Grantley Adams International Airport prior to the signing of the Air Services Agreement.??(Image courtesy of the Ministry of International Transport)??

Delegations representing the Government of Barbados and the Government of the Republic of Panama have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Air Services.

The signing took place yesterday in the Conference Room, Grantley Adams International Airport, following two days of negotiations from July 5 to 6. The MOU provides the framework for Barbadian and Panamanian airlines to operate services between and beyond the two States.

In giving a rationale for the agreement, Minister Hutson stated: "The successful outcome of these Air Service Negotiations will go a long way towards cementing the historical ties of family and friendship between Panamanians and Barbadians.???? It will also expand international air services opportunities and facilitate increased opportunities for tourism, trade and commercial activity between our two countries in particular, as well as the wider central and South America".

In turn, Ambassador Arlina Gonzales Costa welcomed the talks between both countries, especially following last year’s signing of the Double Taxation Agreement (DTA).

The late Prime Minister, David Thompson initiated discussions on both a DTA and an Air Services Agreement between the Government of Panama and the Government of Barbados.?? On June 24, 2010, Minister Hutson signed the DTA with Panama.?? The tax agreement is expected to enhance trade and investment and also

provide new scope for the movement of professors, teachers, artisans and sportspersons between the two countries.?? The signing on July 6 of the MOU on air services culminates talks on both these areas.??

Barbados and Panama have enjoyed a cordial relationship for many years, pre-dating the opening of the Panama Canal.?? But this relationship intensified during the construction of the Canal when it is estimated 60,000 Barbadians immigrated to that country during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to assist with its construction.?? Most of those emigrants remained in Panama and are part of a thriving Barbadian diaspora.??

Prior to the start of the Air Services negotiations, Minister Hutson presented a book entitled "The Silver Men: West Indian Labour Migration to Panama 1850 -1914", written by Senator Velma Newton, to Ambassador Gonzalez Costa.??

Barbados and Panama are both members of the Organization of American States.?? These States are also members of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), having ratified the Convention on International Civil Aviation, 1944.?? It is on the basis of that Convention that Member States of the ICAO established air services agreements either on a bilateral or a multilateral basis.?? Such agreements are a prelude to the establishment of air services between and beyond the territories of the States involved.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries were formally established in 1975.

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