Isthmian Update June 16. In its most recent report on Panama, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) highlights the growth of the economy in the past decade as the highest in Latin America and this is expected to continue with one of the highest rates in the region in the medium term, with low inflation, a stable financial system and a shrinking trade deficit.
Technological advances in the global banking system were discussed for three days at the conference “Digital Tour Americas 2016”, which was held in the capital city, organized by the Panama Banking Association and the company, Smart Card Alliance Latin America. This event showed technological advances and trained participants in their implementation and effective use. Technological advances are changing the way customers and the general public interacts with banks and governments.
The Government announced that it approved the transfer of land to the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) where the new locks of the waterway have been built. The grounds have a calculated value of $143.7 million and include “seven parks” located in the Panama province on the Pacific side, and in Colon province on the Atlantic side, comprising a total area of 379 hectares and 7,669 square meters.
New technologies and energy saving designs will be exhibited in the first edition of the International InterLumi Panama Fair, to be held from July 6 to 8 in Panama City. The fair, with more than 200 exhibits of lighting and LED technology, will serve as an instrument to bring together key players active in the Latin American and Caribbean market, and thus facilitate supply and demand.
Fight over Corozal
Panama Ports Company (PPC) filed an administrative contentious complaint against the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) resolution, which authorized the administration to start the process of prequalification and bidding for the concession of the port of Corozal, to try and have it declared void. The case corresponds to Judge Cecilio Cedalise, who must decide whether to admit the claim or reject it.
A few days before the 68th anniversary of the foundation of the Americas largest free zone and the second largest in the world (after Hong Kong), doubts emerge once again about its fate, if the situation of the Colon Free zone (CFZ) does not change. Despite promises of prosperity that were trumpeted by the government of President Juan Carlos Varela, before and after the promulgation of the Colon Free Port Law and regulations to reorganize the CFZ as an autonomous entity of the State, this economic area remains asphyxiated by taxes and fees that to be paid to operate there.
It would take Panama at least five years to prepare human resources capable of entering new business models posed by the technological revolution, says labor consultant, René Quevedo. This comes after reports showed the global impact of the fourth technological revolution on business models and reduction of job places by robotization and automation services.
Isthmian Update June 16: A positive step
Regularizing the status of foreigners in Panama, and the possibility of them contributing to the treasury and social security, is a positive step, said a spokesman of the main Panamanian employers’ group, regarding a new legalization processes announced by the government. The member of the Board of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP), Alejandro Felix de Sousa, said that the guild supports the legalization of foreigners in the country, although it also advocates an immigration policy which should be “smart”, taking into account the demand for professionals.
A 15% advance is shown in the construction of the Panama Metro Line 2, said President Juan Carlos Varela during a tour of the works. The president was accompanied by the chairman of the Board of the Panama Metro, Roberto Roy, and Marcos Tepedino, the director of the Line 2 consortium, formed by construction companies Norberto Odebrecht and FCC Construction, S.A.
Expo Invest 2016 took place last week with the aim of attracting foreign investment to Panama. The opening ceremony was led by Deputy Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor, Luis Miguel Hincapie, who noted that “despite the difficulties in Latin America as a region, Panama keeps growing at a significant level. Last year it reported the highest numbers of foreign direct investment relative to the size of its economy with more than $5 billion, an increase of 17% over previous years.”
Privatized tug services
The Union of Captains and Deck Officers (UCOC) is claiming that lack of maintenance of tugs and failure to purchase more is a sign of the possible privatization of tug services by the Panama Canal Authority. The average cost of a tugboat is between $7 and $12 million. The ACP argues that 46 tugs are operating.
The fact that Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca (MF) has provided services to companies that may have violated the laws of the US embargo against Cuba, or had links with companies blocked by the United States Treasury Department, was shown in records of that firm, says an extensive report of the US newspaper El Nuevo Herald. According to the article, some Cuban companies that the firm would have helped create had links with Cuban government entities appearing on a list of persons or entities blocked from dealing with US companies.
Panamanian papers’ effect
The CEO of Copa Airlines, Pedro Heilbron, said passenger traffic in Panama has not been affected after the publication of a comprehensive investigation on the formation of companies by the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which had allegedly been used to hide assets from US tax authorities.
Representatives of the transport platform Uber have said that they are willing to have dialogue with the Government on “collaborative mobility”, with a view to creating a regulatory process that includes such companies. The Uber manager in Panama, Juan Pablo Restrepo, told La Estrella de Panama that they have “every intention” of accepting a new law covering the company. Restrepo acknowledged they have had discussions with various government agencies after the mobilization of Panamanian taxi drivers against the US company, which the taxi drivers consider unfair competition.