Isthmian Update – Some of the news in Panama

Venezuelan crisis affects CFZ

The diplomatic and trade crisis between Panama and Venezuela has directly affected companies in the Colon Free Zone (CFZ). Between 2012 and 2013, re-exports to that market fell by 43%. They went from about $3 billion to $1,700 million. This decline stemmed from a lack of access by Venezuelan businessmen to dollars which are restricted by strict exchange control of the Venezuelan government.

More flights to Europe

The President of the Republic, Ricardo Martinelli, wrote in his twitter account that Iberia will fly to Panama seven days a week from Madrid. “Soon they will go to Europe from Panama to 6 different European cities,” added the president. Iberia currently has five weekly flights between the two cities and on June 2, will add a new connection once a week.

Flights to Lisbon

The Portuguese airline TAP announced that they are now opening new direct routes to connect Lisbon to Bogota and Panama City from July 1. According to the company, this new route has already attracted 14,000 reservations. TAP, the leading airline for connections between Europe and Brazil, will fly to both Colombia and Panama four times a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) with an A330-200 Airbus aircraft with capacity for 268 passengers.

Energy plants for companies

Nine days after the energy saving measures were decreed, the Government announced that it will allow enterprises that have high energy demands to be self-sufficient with their own power plants. Daniel Mina, head of the Department of Trade and Standards of the Authority of Public Services (ASEP), said the move will help lower energy demand, especially in the commercial sector, which accounts for 46% of consumption.

Green energy for the future

It will take years for renewable energy to displace hydro and thermal generation as the main generators of electricity, but in a decade they will become an important component of the country’s energy matrix. For now, wind power only contributes less than 3% of the country’s demand. But a sector that has attracted interest from investors is photovoltaics, which is the energy produced by solar radiation.

Public security a reality

Five rounds of negotiations were enough this time for Panama and Mexico to close the negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), a step that brings the country close to being part of the Pacific Alliance. The Panamanian Foreign Minister, Francisco Alvarez de Soto and the Minister of Economy of Mexico, Ildefonso Guajardo, signed a document which terminates the negotiation of this trade agreement, which is expected to be signed in the first week of April as part of the celebration of the Latin America World Economic Forum to be held in Panama City.

Public security

The European Union (EU) made a contribution of $38 million to the Government of Panama for a cooperation program aimed at strengthening public security in the country, an official said today. The program supports the Panama Security Cooperation Agreement (SECOPA) and was made official by the signing of an agreement between the Panamanian Public Security Minister, Jose Raul Mulino, and the representative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Tomas Bermudez.

Peace for Venezuela

President Ricardo Martinelli urged the Organization of American States (OAS) to put on “long trousers” and speak with Venezuela about peace. It also called for the release of political prisoners in the country. Martinelli made the remarks during the “peace concert” organized by the youth of his party (Democratic Change) on the Coastal Strip and with the participation of thousands of Venezuelans living in the country.

Flights to Rio Hato

Flights to the Rio Hato airport, which was opened in November 2013, will start from n April 4, it was reported by President Ricardo Martinelli through his Twitter account. The official opening of the airport terminal, which cost $53 million, has been postponed several times. Initially it was to have started operating from September 30, but this was changed to November 14.

Panama in the grey list

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) included Panama in its “gray list” in June, after the country was rated poorly by the International Monetary Fund in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. According to the analysis, Panama only complied with one of the FATF Forty Recommendations to combat illegal money movement. The Minister of Economy and Finance, Frank De Lima, who announced the information said that, for the moment, there are no restrictions on the country, but warned that “the list is used as a reference by banks”.

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