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Colón Freeport will Boost Panama Economy. The gentrification of Colón City, at a cost of $800 million is advancing well and soon those who are interested in opening a business in one of the 16 streets (Old Quarter) that will comprise the free port, will be able to present their request before the Ministry of Commerce, according to Claudia Pilar Rodriguez, Legal Advisor to the Secretary of the Colón Free Port.
Those companies who want to operate there will need to renovate the building whichever way they need to satisfy their business requirements. However, they must preserve the original facade and obtain the necessary permits from the Historical Heritage Department of the National Culture Institute (Instituto Nacional de Cultura (INAC)), which will decide what buildings will be restored and which will be demolished. Around $50 million will be invested in the renovation of the buildings in that area.
The entrepreneurs of Colón province will be able to sell electronic equipment, televisions, computers, toys, perfumes, shoes, watches, jewelry etc. free of taxes in that area, but they will not compete directly with retail stores.
Rodriguez explained that a pilot plan will be launched in April this year and the first store that will start operations is a branch of a well-known electronic shop chain. Rodriquez announced that this store will be the first of many that want to be part of the project.
“Very soon we are going to have an office in Colón, where entrepreneurs can present the necessary documentation to operate in the free port,” said Rodríguez. “We have made an agreement with the Human Development Institute (INADEH) so it can train people from Colón in different areas of construction and the necessary trades that the free port may need,” said the lawyer.
According to Rodriguez, the ports in the area, such as Colón 2000, will benefit as well as the free zone. “The biggest difference between the Colón Free Zone and the free port is that the former will sell merchandize in bulk, while the free port will sell retail and therefore they will serve different markets.”
“Also a local couple can put the maximum amount allowed ($1,000 every six months per person) to buy more expensive items such as laptops. We are currently working with the Immigration Service to device a system to control entrance to the free port using personal identification numbers for nationals and passports for non-residents,” explained the lawyer.
Currently, the Secretary of the Colón Freeport, María Vanessa Ford de Cohen and Claudia Pilar Rodriguez are arranging meetings with the Panama Banking Association and other organizations, to explain the free port regime and how it will improve the national economy and the positive effects it will have in the province of Colón.