Friday, April 24, 2015

Doing Businees in Panama - Part I


Ever since the discovery of the Americas, Panama’s geographic position has been one of its most valuable assets; facilitating the mobility of people and wealth-building from ocean to ocean and around the world. Today’s moderation and globalization trends have permitted Panama to become the gateway to North and South Americas by creating the most sophisticated and advantageous logistics platform in the Western Hemisphere.

Panama City 2015, Photo by Juliette Passer
The Colon Free Zone (CFZ), the second largest in the world after Hong Kong, is a vital trading and transshipment center serving not only the Americas but also the rest of the world. Last year, the CFZ accounted for 92% of Panama's exports and 64% of its imports, according to an analysis of figures from the CFZ management and estimates of Panama's trade by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. Panama's economy is also very much supported by the trade and exportation of coffee and other agricultural products including shrimp.  


Since its accession to the World Trade Organization on 6 September 1997, Panama has taken significant steps towards modernizing its economic and social structure, and has implemented a growing and sustained open trade process. In this connection, Panama has redoubled its efforts to simplify procedures and strengthen the performance of institutions, which safeguard proper and optimum functioning of the market; for example, by ensuring competitive practices and sustainable development.

In the last few years, Panama has become the center of attraction for many investors seeking opportunities, not only in port, cargo handling, export and import activities, but also  in other unrelated business sectors such as tourism, entertainment, real estate development, health, education, mining and clean energy generation.

Panama’s prospects for economic growth are strong amidst global economic meltdown, showing positive growth of 10.6% in 2011, 10.5% in 2012 and (according to the World Bank data) in 2013 the economy is expected to have continued to be one of the fastest growing in the world with predicted growth of 7.5%; this economic expansion is expected to continue in 2014 and beyond.

In addition, the commercial expectations placed on the ongoing expansion of the Canal, which connects the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, will further endorse the natural hub for business that exists between North and South America, as well as between Asia and Europe, with direct maritime access to over 80 countries and 3.5 billion people. The canal presently serves more than 14,000 ships through 144 maritime routes and complements a system of container terminals in the Pacific and the Caribbean that serve as cargo transshipments and redistribution centers. The terminals record an annual movement of containerized cargo of 4.25 million TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit); in addition to the inter-oceanic railroad that has a capacity of 330,000 containers per year from one coast to another. Panama also has the world’s largest merchant marine fleet. 

New Panama Canal Locks, photo by Juliette Passer 2014
Panama's dollar-based economy offers low inflation and zero foreign exchange risk for US investors. Its legal and regulatory regimes are business friendly. Its government is stable, democratic, and reform minded, actively seeking foreign investment in all sectors, especially services, tourism and retirement properties.

According to Panama's Constitution, nationals and foreigners are treated equally under the law. Both Panamanian and foreign companies must fulfill the same basic requirements to organize and operate most types of business activities in Panama. The Investment Stability Law (Law No. 54 of July 22, 1998), guarantees all foreign and national investors equal rights in terms of investments and business practices, continuing Panama's long-standing policy of providing a foreign-investment environment that requires no special authorizations, permits or prior registration. Panama has no restrictions on the outflow of capital or outward direct investment.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Greetings,

For our Spanish readers, we will now alternate our posts in Spanish and English weekly. 

Our first Spanish post is below - enjoy!



Desde el descubrimiento de las Américas, la posición geográfica de Panamá ha sido uno de sus activos más valiosos; facilitando la movilidad de las personas y la creación de riqueza de océano a océano y en todo el mundo. Las tendencias de modernización y globalización de hoy en día han permitido que Panamá convertirse en la puerta de entrada a Norte y Sur América mediante la creación de la plataforma logística más sofisticada y ventajosa en el Hemisferio Occidental.

La Zona Libre de Colón (ZLC), la segunda más grande del mundo después de Hong Kong, es un centro de comercio y transbordo importante al servicio no sólo de América, sino también al resto del mundo. El año pasado, la ZLC representó el 92% de las exportaciones de Panamá y el 64% de sus importaciones, según un análisis de datos de la gerencia de la  ZLC y estimaciones del comercio de Panamá por la Comisión Económica de las Naciones Unidas para América Latina y el Caribe. La economía de Panamá también está muy apoyada por el comercio y la exportación de café y otros productos agrícolas, incluyendo camarones.

Desde su adhesión a la Organización Mundial del Comercio el 6 de septiembre de 1997, Panamá ha dado pasos significativos hacia la modernización de su estructura económica y social, y ha implementado un creciente y sostenido proceso de comercio abierto. En este sentido, Panamá ha redoblado sus esfuerzos para simplificar los procedimientos y consolidar el desempeño de las instituciones, que velen por el adecuado y óptimo funcionamiento del mercado; por ejemplo, asegurando prácticas competitivas y el desarrollo sostenible.

En los últimos años, Panamá se ha convertido en el centro de atracción para muchos inversores en busca de oportunidades, no sólo en el puerto, manejo de carga, actividades de exportación e importación, sino también en otros sectores de negocios no relacionados, como el turismo, el entretenimiento, el desarrollo inmobiliario, la salud, la educación, la minería y la generación de energía limpia. Las perspectivas de Panamá para el crecimiento económico son fuertes en medio de la crisis económica mundial, con un crecimiento positivo del 10,6% en 2011, 10,5% en 2012 y 7.5% en 2013 según los datos del Banco Mundial, haciendo que la economía de Panamá sea una de  las de más rápido crecimiento en el mundo; este crecimiento económico se espera continúe en el 2014 y más allá. 

Además, las expectativas comerciales impuestas a la continua expansión del Canal, que conecta los océanos Pacífico y Atlántico, apoyarán aún más el centro natural para los negocios que existe entre Norte y Sur América, así como entre Asia y Europa, con acceso marítimo directo a más de 80 países y 3,5 millones de personas. El Canal actualmente presta servicios a más de 14,000 naves a través de 144 rutas marítimas y complementa un sistema de terminales de contenedores en el Pacífico y el Caribe que sirve como trasbordo y centros de distribución de carga. Las terminales tuvieron un record de movimiento de carga de contenedor anual de 4.25 millones de TEU; además del tren interoceánico que tiene la capacidad de 330,000 contenedores por año de una costa a otra. Panamá además tiene la mayor flota de marina mercante del mundo.

La economía basada en el dólar de Panamá ofrece una baja inflación y el riesgo cambiario cero para inversionistas de USA. Sus regímenes legales y regulatorios son amigables para los negocios. Su gobierno es estable, democrático, y de mentalidad reformista, buscando activamente la inversión extranjera en todos los sectores, especialmente  servicios, turismo y  propiedades para jubilación.

De acuerdo con la Constitución de Panamá, los nacionales y los extranjeros reciben el mismo trato ante la ley. Ambas empresas panameñas y extranjeras deben cumplir los mismos requisitos básicos para organizar y operar la mayoría de los tipos de actividades comerciales en Panamá. La Ley de Estabilidad de Inversión (Ley No. 54 de 22 de julio, 1998), garantiza a  todos los inversionistas extranjeros y nacionales iguales derechos en términos de inversiones y prácticas comerciales, continuando la política de larga data de Panamá de ofrecer un entorno de inversión extranjera que no requiere autorizaciones especiales, permisos o registro previo. Panamá no tiene restricciones a la salida de capital o la inversión directa en el exterior.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Minden Man Helped Build Panama Canal



One of the most amazing human endeavors that changed our world was the completion of the interoceanic Panama Canal in 1914 by the United States.

One of the many Americans who worked in the Panama Canal Zone was from Minden, Nebraska. An electrical engineer, George H. “Tom” Hartsough, found opportunity and eventually, an untimely death, by working abroad in American ventures in Central and South America.
Photo: At Mira Flores, Panama Canal by Juliette Passer 2014

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the official opening of the Panama Canal. The American-built waterway across the Isthmus of Panama that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans was an engineering feat, then and today still.

The 50-mile passage across the country of Panama, uses a system of locks to lift ships 85 feet above sea level. The bypass route was important to the shipping industry, trimming nearly 8,000 miles from voyages between New York and California that previously had to travel clear around the tip of South America.
 
See the December 10th, 2014 Minden Courier for full article.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!



Greetings,

Happy Thanksgiving!

Please note that our New York Office will be closed November 27 and 28 - our Panama office will be closed on December 1 and December 8.


Photo by Juliette Passer 2014
May you find time
this Thanksgiving
to enjoy the things
you hold closest
to your heart!





Regards,
Juliette and the NY - Panama Team

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Potentially - A Walmart Distribution Center in Panama





Photo by Juliette Passer, 2014
Panama reserves supermarket operations for local companies, so there could be confusion over the news report from Prensa.com, which states that "... Through a letter signed by Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, a group of businessmen, headed by the general manager of the Colon Free Zone (CFZ), Surse Pierpoint- are seeking to attract the attention of executives at Walmart US to install a distribution center for Latin America in Panama ", indicating the Colon Free Zone (CFZ) as 'the right place'."

The move by entrepreneurs from the CFZ could be understood as a way to bolster their arguments as part of the pressure being exerted on the government for the CFZ to be accorded the same tax privileges as other zones in the country. Beyond this, it is clear that a market opening for Walmart in the large scale
retail sector will be on the negotiating table, something which up to now has been rejected.

Severo Sousa, president of the Logistics Business Council, a member of the group of entrepreneurs that is driving the initiative, said "... "I always thought it was a good idea to attract Walmart, to sell them the benefits that Panama has to offer, so that they will set up here, and have it as a flagship company to attract other businesses of this type to the country."