Isthmian Update Some of the news in Panama

CFZ calls WTO on Colombia

Panama yesterday reported Colombia to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in its request for consultations over the South American country’s tariff policy, which is causing heavy losses to the Colon Free Zone (CFZ). Since March, Colombiahas imposed a tariff of 10% on footwear, textiles and clothing from Asia, which is having an impact on the operations of the CFZ, said Surse Pierpoint, president of the Colon Free Zone Users’ Association (AU).

The AU yesterday asked the Panamanian authorities not to sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Colombia until that country relaxes tariff protection measures on free zone products.

Telecommunications

conference

Latin America is lagging behind in the use of information technologies and communications. Only 25% of the population has access to these services, said Felipe Simonsohn, executive coordinator of the First Regional Congress of Telecommunications to be held in Panama from July 23 to 26, 2013.

Scanning goods

The National Customs Authority (ANA) issued the contract requirements for bidders on scanning services. The company that wins the contract will receive between $80 million and $140 million over the 10 years term.

Construction costs

on the rise

Of the main materials used in construction in Panama, in the month of May the only prices that decreased were stranded power cord (5.6%), zinc (2.5%) and steel rod one inch thick (0.1%), according to the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC). The study, which was conducted in the districts of Panama and San Miguelito, recorded that stone price increased 3.8% compared to April of this year.

Mining makes way for

development in the interior

According to the daily La Estrella, the towns of Penonome, La Pintada and Coclesito in the province of Cocle, show an interesting socio-economic growth with the opening of banks, restaurants, hotels, shopping centers, pubs, brothels, push buttons (motels of casual occupancy), and the development of residential areas and a transport terminal, thanks to the mining boom.

ATP tax increase

The cost of hotels for end users in Panama could increase in price as a result of a proposed increase to the tourist tax paid to the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP). The information has unleashed opposition in the hotel sector. The current rate, which is 10%, has been proposed to increase by between 0.5% and 1%, which would raise it to 10.5% or 11%.

Panama leading pack in

Central American growth

Central America recorded a real growth of 4.1% this year, driven largely by Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. This was reported in Tegucigalpa by the Central American Institute for Fiscal Studies (Icefi). In contrast, the three remaining nations, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, will have growth of between 1.6 and 3.3%, Icefi executives said. The “Fiscal Lens number 5” indicates that Panama will be the economic engine of the region in 2013 with a growth rate of 9% followed by Nicaragua, 4%, Costa Rica, 3.9%; Guatemala, 3.5%, Honduras 3% and El Salvador 2.3%.

Casco Antiguo on

chopping block

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) is debating whether or not to include the Old Quarter in the list of endangered world heritage sites as a result of the building of a marine viaduct linking Balboa Avenue with the Avenue of the Poets. A delegation from Switzerland and Estonia, as well as experts in property, said the damage to the site will be “irreversible.” The next step for Unesco, after putting Casco Antiguo on the endangered list, would be to strip it of the coveted status as a world heritage site, something the barrio has enjoyed since 1997.

Tourism industry challenge

The Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) administrator Salomon Shamah has stated that the industry faces a challenge in that “yes there are more hotel rooms than current demand requires.” His statement was made in regards to the ATP’s participation with Copa Airlines to promote the country as a destination throughout Copa’s network of over 60 cities using the “Panama es Posible” campaign. Connectivity is a major factor in winning over a new market, according to Shamah.

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