Latin America Roundtable for MPs/Peers hears updates on Ecuador and Panama
On 1 July, BGIPU and Canning House co-hosted the first of its Latin America roundtables to mark this year’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office Leadership Week. The meeting was chaired by BGIPU Executive Committee Member and Latin America APPG Vice-Chair, Baroness Hooper, and introductory remarks were provided by Canning House CEO, Cristina Cortes. Members received briefings from Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Ecuador, HE Chris Campbell, and Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Panama, HE Damion Potter and there was an opportunity for open discussion. Baroness Hooper opened the meeting, mentioning that it has been eight years since BGIPU attended the IPU Assembly in Quito and noting that Panama is on the Group’s forward programme for what will hopefully be an in-person bilateral meeting.
HE Chris Campbell provided the first presentation which gave a comprehensive overview of Ecuador’s political landscape since the new government took power on 24th May, led by President Guillermo Alberto Santiago Lasso Mendoza. He spoke about the positive relationship the Embassy has with the new government, noting the signing in Quito of the UK-Andean Countries Trade Agreement and the more recent agreement to work together to deliver two major climate projects. The Ambassador also pointed out that six Chevening scholars have been appointed to senior government positions.
HE Damion Potter followed with an equally detailed update on the political, economic, and social situation in Panama. He explained that, like many countries across the world, the pandemic has exacerbated wealth disparities and the vulnerabilities of the healthcare and education system in Panama. He also noted that Panama is rolling out vaccines very quickly and will have double vaccinated its entire population by the end of 2021. HE Damion Potter highlighted the success of the trade agreement between Central America and the UK which was signed in October 2019, and the ambition for a further reaching agreement which includes provisions for financial and other services.
This meeting was a wonderful opportunity for Members to hear first-hand accounts of the situation in Ecuador and Panama, and BGIPU would like to thank the Ambassadors for giving their time to provide such high-quality briefings.