PANAMA CITY, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela Tuesday highlighted the newly established diplomatic ties with China as one of the major accomplishments of his past year in office.
"2017 was successful for Panama and Panamanians," Varela said in his state of the nation speech to the National Assembly, adding the establishment of diplomatic ties with China last June was "one of the most important international developments with positive outcomes for our country."
Varela said his administration, which has been in power for three and a half years, aims to complete the construction of a new convention center in the capital with a Chinese firm's help.
China Construction America will construct the Amador Convention Center in conjunction with Panama's Construcciones Civiles Generales.
In October, China Harbour Engineering Company and Belgium's Han de Nul formed Cruceros del Pacifico, a consortium to build a passenger cruise ship terminal on Panama's Pacific coast.
Varela also said Panama was expected to maintain its last year's growth rate of 5.6 percent in 2018.