Visiting U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden and Panama's President Ricardo Martinelli agreed Tuesday to boost bilateral economic ties and modernize the Panama Canal in particular.
Biden, who arrived in Panama City late Monday for a two-day official visit, told a joint press conference that the United States was working to ensure its free trade agreement with Panama is implemented as soon as possible.
Describing his talks with Biden as very productive, the Panamanian president said that they had agreed to continue improving bilateral relations.
"We have discussed the expansion of the Panama Canal, and how significant and important it is for the world trade, especially for the eastern part of the United States," Martinelli said.
On the future economic impact of a larger Panama Canal, Biden, for his part, said that "the modernization of the canal" was an "investment" for the future of both countries.
"When goods travel faster, at a lower cost, world trade expands," he said.
"It protects the special place that Panama has in the world economy. It will expand our economies by billions of dollars," Biden said.
The U.S. vice president also highlighted the role of Panama in security matters, especially its effort in fighting drug trafficking.