By Dialogo October 07, 2011 Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli called on Chilean ports to take advantage of the expansion of the Panama Canal, of which Chile is one of the chief users, at the end of a meeting with President Sebastián Piñera in Santiago. “Chile is one of the most important users of the Panama Canal. May Chilean ports take advantage of the opportunity offered by the Panama Canal expansion,” Martinelli noted in a statement to the press at the end of the meeting. The Panamanian president also characterized Chile as an “elder brother” of his country and highlighted the agreements on cultural cooperation and education signed in the context of this visit. More than a third of Chilean exports pass through the Panama Canal, which is currently undergoing expansion. Later, Martinelli gave a talk at the Santiago headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), where he explained that the expansion of the Panama Canal will conclude in 2014 and that it will have new, larger locks that will enable it to receive higher-capacity ships, going from 3,200 containers now to 12,000. “Due to this, ports like those of Chile are also going to have to be expanded; they will need to review the general distribution and cost of shipping, which translates into a decrease in the cost of living and the basic basket of goods in all countries,” the Central American president maintained. For his part, Piñera said that “President Ricardo Martinelli is a friend of Chile” and that Panama and Chile have always had “a relationship of trust.” The education agreement signed by the two presidents establishes “cooperation on the development of activities of mutual interest, to the benefit of teachers and students in both countries,” a joint declaration indicated. The second agreement fosters the exchange of cultural cooperation “that seeks to promote cultural relations, acknowledging the importance of the theatrical, visual, and audiovisual arts, literature, and tangible and intangible cultural heritage as tools of integration.” “We’ve signed collaboration agreements that are undoubtedly going to mean progress for our citizens,” President Piñera said.