President Tsai Ing-wen's overseas diplomatic mission, codenamed the "Ing-Hsiang Project" ("Hsiang" means to take flight in Mandarin Chinese), continued its second day in Panama on June 26 (local time) with a morning visit to Evergreen Group's Colon Container Terminal, S.A. (CCT). The president learned more about the developmental achievements of Taiwanese industries in Panama, and praised Evergreen Group's CCT as an extension of the power of the Taiwanese people and a source of their pride.
In remarks, the president said that she embarked on this trip at the invitation of Panama President Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez to participate in the inauguration ceremony for the Panama Canal Expansion. The Panama Canal is an important global shipping artery, she said, and an international transport venue where Taiwan, of course, will always have a presence.
President Tsai then noted that Evergreen Group's Evergreen Marine Corp. is a world-class shipping company, and the CCT is Evergreen's largest investment in the Panama Canal. The terminal gives Taiwan a pivotal role in Central and South American shipping, and shows Taiwan's strength as a maritime nation. Completion of the canal's expansion project will greatly increase shipping capacity, and the CCT is an integral part of that buildup. The president then expressed her gratitude to the Panama government for reaching an agreement with the CCT that extends the corporation's lease contract for 20 years. She also thanked the Panama government for their support, and expressed hope for the continued enhancement of bilateral cooperation.
The president then stated that the CCT is a key transshipment hub for Evergreen Marine Corp. in the Americas. Since it began formal operation in 1997, the company has continued to expand container terminals and service facilities, investing over US$1 billion to date while creating a great many job opportunities. So the CCT is clearly an important investment by Evergreen Marine Corp. in Panama, she said, symbolizing the mutual benefit and assistance, and the stable friendship, that characterize the Taiwan-Panama relationship.
The president also said that Evergreen Marine Corp. has a stellar corporate image in Panama, and is the company of choice for many young Panamanians entering the work force. This, in addition to official interactions, serves as an important foundation for bilateral friendship between Taiwan and Panama. President Tsai also believes that in the future, the Evergreen Group will continue to spur official and people-to-people exchanges and cooperation between the two countries.
The president also mentioned that when she was a student in England in the 1980s, very little news about Taiwan was available in Europe. But at that time, Evergreen Group's EVA Airways had regular flights to London, so she was both moved and very proud every time she saw their "Wings of Taiwan" advertisement on television. So upon seeing the shipping terminal today (June 26) full of neatly arranged green containers marked "Evergreen", she had a strong sense that, "This is an extension of the power of Taiwanese people, and a source of their pride."
The president stated that Panama's citizens were all preparing for the pomp and splendor of that day's inauguration ceremony for the Panama Canal Expansion. That morning she was also very moved to see Evergreen container ships on television, which was "a magnificent scene with their beautiful colors." On behalf of the government and people of Taiwan, the president then paid her respect and gratitude to all of the Taiwanese enterprises operating around the globe and making Taiwan more visible to people everywhere.
President Tsai then proceeded to the terminal's container loading area, accompanied by Unigreen Marine, S.A. Chairman Scott Chang (張新億), CCT Chairman Chang Yen-I (張衍義), Evergreen International Corp. President David Tai (戴錦銓), and Evergreen Group Spokesman Golden Kou (柯金成). To gain an on-site understanding of terminal operations, the president listened to an introductory presentation on that topic and toured the terminal's maintenance department and refueling station.