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PANAMA - Diplomacy

Itai Bardov

Ambassador, Israel in Panama

Bio

Itai Bardov holds a degree in political science and international relations from the Open University of Israel and an MBA from Ono Academic College. He served as a commander in the IDF forces in the artillery corps and in the Israeli border police. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel in 2006 and has been the Ambassador of Israel to Panama since 2021.

"The relationship is excellent; we have many initiatives with the government and local communities, such as our courses with MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation."
Israel and Panama have identified many areas where both countries can cooperate and work closely together to capitalize on each other’s advantages.
How would you assess the relationship between Panama and Israel?

The relationship is excellent; we have many initiatives with the government and local communities, such as our courses with MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation. We hold many courses on entrepreneurship, innovation, economy, and female empowerment where we bring Panamanians to Israel to do courses. During the pandemic, we did these via Zoom, though now we are resuming the courses in Israel. For example, there are Panamanian doctors who come to Israel to do their specialties there. After their studies, they come to Israeli hospitals for one year or two years to become more professional, and then they bring that expertise and knowledge back to Panama. There are many things that we are doing here to strengthen communities.

Which sectors have the greatest potential for investment by Israeli companies?

One of the important sectors is food security, because there are many technologies and sectors in agriculture, of which water is one of them. There are many projects, initiatives, and companies from Israel working here with Panamanians on technologies, water management, as well as food security, which is an important issue today. Israel has many different kinds of technologies such as, for example, growing more crops using less water and land and fewer resources. I was in Israel with the foreign minister of Suriname to present the different fields in which Israel can help. We also see opportunities in Panama in cybersecurity and pharmaceuticals as well. Here, we are working with companies and the authorities on encouraging start-ups and advancing education. We work in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and are offering technologies and satellites for remote education. Education is an important segment for us.

How can Israel assist Panamanian institutions to foster local talent?

Israel is called the start-up nation in terms of how it became an advanced technological country. Israel started creating technological greenhouses, which encouraged and supported entrepreneurs, even giving them loans. This encouraged and supported these entrepreneurs who did not have much funding. That also helped to develop the high-tech sector. Furthermore, in Israel the military works on different projects and technologies that are not only used by military uses, but can also be used for civilian purposes. Another thing is that Israel invests heavily in education, especially public education. All these different factors help to create a spirit of innovation. There are some basic things that Panama has to do in order to become a hub, and education is definitely one of them. In order to become a digital hub, you have to maximize the potential of everyone in the country. I know that in Panama, education is extremely important to this government. However, there are still many challenges.

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