Thank you for that question.
Canada has paid a very special interest to the Americas region, and specifically to Central America. As you know, it is a region of the world that presents very specific challenges in terms of security and economic prosperity.
When we're able to engage with countries like Panama, we have a unique opportunity to lift more people out of poverty by engaging with them in trade. We're providing new opportunities for them to sell their goods into our markets. When you lift them out of poverty, that also contributes to developing stronger democratic institutions.
One of the things I've focused in on is making sure this government's direction is towards engagement rather than isolation. Panama is a perfect example. It is a country that has so much potential. It's a country Canada has decided to engage with.
We're hoping to not only improve their opportunities for trade, and through that process lift more people out of poverty, but it's also an opportunity for us to invite them into the family of nations that respect robust human rights, environmental standards, and labour rights.
You mentioned the canal. The canal of course is going to be of significant benefit to Panama. We're pleased to see that. It also represents a challenge for Canada in terms of our west coast ports. That is one of the reasons, as you know, we've invested heavily in infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific gateway, to make sure our ports, roadways, and railways become more efficient so we can get our products to and from market more efficiently.
We're going to have more competition from the Panama Canal. Being engaged with Panama provides us with the opportunity to contribute to building their society and building a stronger democracy. Hopefully Panama has its own opportunity to become a model for some of the other countries in the region that perhaps have not progressed as much as Panama has.