Visas for Canada are still a problem
The Commerce and Industry Ministry, Roberto Henriquez said that the current situation about the issue of visas to travel to Canada is te...
The Commerce and Industry Ministry, Roberto Henriquez said that the current situation about the issue of visas to travel to Canada is terrible and in the long run could negatively affect the Free Trade Agreement FTA between Panama and Canada.
Panamanian businessmen, professionals, students and tourists have a terrible time trying to get a visa to go to Canada and many prefer to travel to the United States or other countries that have consulates in Panama rather than go through the hassle of trying to obtain a visa from the Canadian embassy in Guatemala.
Henriquez said that currently it takes too long to obtain a Canadian visa. First, the person has to send his passport to Guatemala to the Canadian Consulate, then it issues the visa for a limited period of time and sends the passport back to the owner.
The process could take over a week, with the additional risk that the passport could be lost in transit.
The minister said that the Panamanian government has asked the Canadians to open an office here be able to issue visas in 24 hours.
Prime Minister Harper said that the visa requirement for Panama cannot be waved. However, it appears that there are logistical problems in having to send passports to Guatemala to obtain visas.
Harper said that his government will examine ways to deal with this particular issue, but he gave no indicationof whenit it would be resolved.
The Commerce Minister also announced announced that COPA airlines is going to operate three direct flights a week from Panama to Canada soon, but the company has not yet announced when it will open the routes or what the cost of a round trip ticket will be.
Henriquez said that having direct flights to Canada will help the FTA with Canada, but the visa problem is a matter that has to be resolved sooner rather than later.