Since the discovery of the Isthmus of Panama we have always been a meeting point of civilizations at the service of global trade and the world. Today we are the most stable and with greater growth economy in Latin America. We are the hub of the Americas, which facilitates communication and connectivity of the continent with the rest of the world. Panama is the regional headquarters of more than 100 transnational and we are a country where the law and the legal security, with an economy open to foreign investment and a government committed to transparency, accountability, the separation of powers and the strengthening of democratic institutions.
The massive filtration of documents on corporations of a Panamanian law firm with operations in different jurisdictions, has given rise to a controversy that shows a global problem.
Panama wants to make it very clear that this situation that has been badly named “The Panama Papers”, is not a problem of our country but also in many countries of the world, whose legal and financial structures are still vulnerable to be used for purposes that do not represent the common good of the citizens.
In 21 months of our administration of government, the Republic of Panama has taken decisive steps in favor of transparency and strengthening of our financial system and platform of services, which allowed us to: exit from the gray list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in this year 2016 and move to Phase 2 of the peer review of the Global Forum, with which the international community has validated our legal framework to comply with international standards. In addition, beginning in January 2016 we attended the need to provide certainty as to the identification of the owners of the shares of corporations, as a demonstration of our firm commitment to transparency.
We recognize that we must continue to make progress in our State agenda of that we have set ourselves to shield our institutions, but we are not going to allow this media narrative to define us as a country.
Earnest and responsible Governments do not negotiate the adoption of international obligations through the media but through diplomacy, through serious, responsible and constructive dialog.
I have asked Chancellor Isabel de Saint Malo, to contact the member countries of the Global Economic Forum and to reiterate to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) our willingness to engage in dialog with respect to reach agreements that contribute to the economic development of our countries. And as is said in its own motto, our country and our government is also committed to the building of a stronger, cleaner and just world.
The Government of Panama, through our Ministry of Foreign Affairs will create an independent committee of national and international experts of recognized experience, to evaluate our practices and propose the adoption of measures which will be shared with other countries of the world, to strengthen the transparency of the financial and legal systems. We will not only work internally but also lead an effort for the benefit of the rest of the world.
I want make it clear that Panama will continue to cooperate with other jurisdictions as we have been doing both in judicial matters to prosecute offenses that are outlawed in our Criminal Code as well as in terms of the exchange of information to comply with the international treaties ratified by the Republic of Panama.
We reaffirm our commitment as responsible country, respectful of international law and cooperative with the efforts of the international community in search for solutions to this global problem. At this time we ask all countries to make use of all diplomatic channels and maintain mutual respect.
To the Panamanian people, I ask that we continue to work together to strengthen our country and to defend the highest interests of our nation.