These are tough times for Angela Merkel, the German chancellor: a nasty welcome in Athens last week, an increasingly contentious conflict with François Hollande, the French president, over banking union, and a fierce attack on her crisis management in the German parliament.
So it must have been nice to get a pat on the back this week, even it if was from an unlikely source: Ricardo Martinelli, president of Panama, who told Merkel on a visit to Berlin he would like to introduce the euro as Panamanian legal tender alongside the US dollar, because he has “full confidence in the euro, full confidence in Europe.”
“In Panama the currency in free circulation is the American dollar, and I told the chancellor we are looking for ways for the euro to become another currency of legal circulation and to be accepted in the Panamanian market,” he told a joint news conference. “We would be, who knows, the only country in the world with two currencies, the euro and the [US] dollar,” he added.
Martinelli gave no details on how this might be done. But Merkel looked pleased, sort of, as this video from the Panamanian presidency shows (he gets to the subject at 3:33; notice her approving nod at 3:50).
Martinelli had the distinction of being voted Central America’s second least popular president this year. But some sluggish European economies might envy the state of Panama’s economy. It grew by 10.6 per cent last year, mostly thanks to heavy infrastructure spending. Projects underway include the $5.25bn expansion of the Panama Canal, a $1.25bn metro for the capital, and airport extensions.
About 10,000km separate Frankfurt, the seat of the European Central Bank, from Panama’s capital. But what’s a few thousand kilometers? Aside from the 17 countries in the eurozone, out of the EU’s 27 member states, the currency also circulates in some non-EU countries such as Kosovo and Montenegro, as well as Monaco and Andorra, and a few more distant territories – some of them not very far from Panama.
Panama leader tells Germany he wants to adopt euro, Reuters
Panama file, beyondbrics