Panama's foreign minister on Wednesday called on Forum for East Asian-Latin American Cooperation (Fealac) member nations to provide support for the program to expand the Panama Canal.
Foreign Minister Samuel Lewis Navarro is in Brasilia for a two-day meeting of the bloc called to boost trade between the two regions amid concern over the U.S. credit crisis.
Nine of the ten major users of the canal sent envoys to the meeting, which, he said, has manifested the canal's importance in boosting cooperation between the two regions.
The Panamanian government hopes an expanded canal would further improve its role as a world-trade logistics center, said the minister. It also hopes the canal could provide greater access for Latin Americans to the Pacific region and for Asians to the Atlantic, he added.
An estimate by the Panamanian government has set the budget for the expansion project at 5.25 billion U.S. dollars. The biggest user of the canal is the United States, ahead of China, Japan, Chile and South Korea.