Isthmian Update – Vol. 21#45

Banco Universal still reorganizing

Banco Universal reorganization period was extended for 90 days. The Panama Bank Superintendence (SBP) reported the measure a week ago when it was decided to extend the time originally agreed to.

Boosting handicraft exports

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI) announced the activation of the system “Easy Export” to boost handicraft sales abroad. Using a digital platform, artisans can register their product in the “Easy Export” page, while people abroad can access it to view the product catalog.

Gridlock at the Panama Canal

Not only the arteries of the capital city are congested, but also the Panama Canal, where ships, normally take 24 to 30 hours in “Canal Water Time”, which includes the arrival, waiting time and transit. However now they are taking 37 to 80 hours.

Canal expansion shows progress

Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC) continues to record significant milestones in the construction of the Third Set of Locks. This substantial progress is evidenced with the excavation and dredging of the North and South caps, connecting the oceans with the new locks. “We are now conducting hydraulic tests to ensure that the work complies with the requirements,” said Jose Pelaez, Director of Projects of GUPC.

Hotel Crisis

The Panama’s hotel sector is in crisis due to low occupancy levels, said Annette Cardenas, president of the Tourism Committee of the Panama Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture. She said the continued building of hotels is a “serious” problem because it continues to increase the room inventory. Promotional rates of different hotels are great for customers, but the situation is difficult for the hospitality sector, she added. “There’s a price war and it is very difficult for the hotels to improve their results with the end of the year in sight,” said Cardenas.

Panama in the Human Rights Council

Panama, Venezuela and Ecuador have become members of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations for the next three years. As from January 1, 2016, the three Latin American countries will occupy the seats that were vacated. “This is a recognition of the historic role that Panama has played in the world as a conciliatory country, and a just recognition of the policies and programs that the Panamanian government promotes” said the Panamanian Foreign Ministry in a statement.

$230 million for Mibus

The National Assembly transferred $230 million to pay for the purchase of the company Panama Mass Transit (Mibus), operated by Metrobus. The legislators agreed to transfer the money to the public company Metro de Panama, which will acquire the Metrobus operation for it to become one of its subsidiaries.

Return of the Royal Caribbean

After closing its Panamanian operations in 2013, the US cruise line Royal Caribbean has expressed its intention to reinstate the sailings from the isthmus, and manage new routes, according to the Panama Tourism Authority (ATP).

Black Friday

With great optimism the commercial sector welcomes the shopping season which starts on November 27 with the popular Black Friday. The president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP), Carlos Fernandez, said that the sales are an opportunity to boost the retail sector.

UTP students developed a green house

Students of the Technological University of Panama (UTP) won the prize for developing “An Economically Affordable House”, while participating in the Solar Decathlon 2015. In this competition, held at the Orange County Great Park, Irvine, California, USA, 20 universities took part, of which only nine reached the final.

Money laundering

Panamanian executive groups analyzed the new money laundering prevention regulations for the financial sector, with the idea of finding ways to get out of the gray list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The topic was debated during the forum called “Prevention of money laundering and the new Law 23: New regulations and challenges for financial and non-financial sectors”, organized by the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APEDE).

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