Officials from Panama and China are meeting in the opening round of talks to reach a free trade agreement, one year after the two countries established diplomatic relations.
The talks started Monday in Panama City and are expected to last through Friday.
Panama's commerce minister says his country hopes to become the point of entry for Chinese investments and products for the region.
Augusto Arosemena says that would be a fundamental part of the talks. China is the second largest user of the Panama Canal after the United States.
Panama dropped relations with Taiwan and established relations with China in June of last year.