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Corruption and conflicts of interest recovery obstacles


Posted 01/08/2021

Corruption and conflict of interest are the biggest obstacles to achieving a post-pandemic sustainable economic recovery says Panama’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture(Cciap)  which has relaunched its Respect  My Future campaign.

“But this process requires the strengthening of  Panama’s foundations and its constitutional, institutional, and social principles," says the Chamber.

The campaign has the purpose of raising awareness and rescuing civic and moral values and has the support of the National Commission for Civic and Moral Values and the Ecumenical and Interreligious Committee of Panama, reiterated the Cciap, in its weekly newsletter.

According to the Cciap, #RespetaMiFuturo focuses on respect, as an inescapable condition for any country that seeks to advance. Respect, in turn, encompasses values such as ethics, freedom, leadership, loyalty, tolerance, inclusion, justice, honesty, equality, equity, the group emphasized.

"If as a union we have decided to protect the campaign, it is because we are convinced that the main threats to social and economic reactivation are corruption and conflicts of interest, which tarnish positive works and good examples," it added.

The campaign has the support of the mass media and opinion leaders in the country.



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Panama GDP expands 10% in first semester


Posted 17/09/2021

Panama's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 10% in the first half of this year, compared to the same period in 2020, when the country's economy was semi-paralyzed due to measures to curb the COVID-19 pandemic which ultimately resulted in a 17.9% collapse of the indicator that year.

The National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) reported January and June the GDP "reached a cumulative growth of 10.0%", with a significant expansion of the indicator in the second quarter (40.4%) in contrast with the result of the first quarter (-8.5%).

In the second quarter, the Quarterly Gross Domestic Product (GDPT) reached $9,124.9 billion, an increase of $2,627.8 billion compared to the same quarter of 2020, specified the INEC, a body attached to the Comptroller General's Office.

"For the second quarter of 2021, mitigation measures and the vaccination process have been allowing health authorities to reduce or eliminate the restrictions established to contain the pandemic, helping economic activities begin their recovery process", explained the statistical entity.

It specified that the activities related to the domestic economy that had a positive performance in the second quarter were construction; transport and communication; trade; government services; health and real estate and business, among others, while financial services showed decreases.

The items related to the external economy that grew were "exploitation of mines and quarries, by boosting the economy with the production of copper concentrate by 493.3%; and the Panama Canal, with an increase in its toll revenues by 20 2%, mainly those related to the transit of Neopanamax vessels at 21.5% ".

Port operations also expanded as a result of the greater movement of TEU containers by 17% and re-exports from the Colon Free Zone by 62.4%, while exports of bananas, pineapple, and fish showed decreases. After the fall of 17.9% last year, international organizations and risk rating agencies have predicted that Panama's GDP will grow between 8% and 12% this year.

Local analysts warn that growth will be a "rebound effect" driven by sectors such as mining and not by the reactivation of the domestic market, because the public and private investments necessary to lift the sector have not been made, for which they foresee that unemployment will continue at around 20% and informality at more 52%.

Sectors such as hotels and restaurants; the manufacturing industry; financial intermediation; agriculture, and real estate, business and rental activities continue to be hit hard.



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Panama economy will grow 9% this year  - World Bank


Posted 07/10/2021

Panama’s economy will grow 9.9% this year, according to a new report published by the World Bank.

According to this forecast, Panama would be among the countries with the highest growth rate in Latin America, behind Guyana (21.2%), Peru (11.3%), and Chile (10.6%).

For next year, the international organization's estimate for Panama is a growth of 7.5%, also among the highest in the continent.

In a press conference with the region's media, William Maloney the Bank's chief economist for Latin America and the Caribbean briefly referred to the evolution of the Panamanian economy.

He said that the country received strong blows in sectors such as tourism and air transport, and stressed the importance of reactivating them. He also noted that there are similar challenges to the rest of the region, such as greater integration, improving infrastructure, and the quality of education to improve growth rates in the medium term.

Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole will grow 6.3% in 2021, which will not be enough to completely reverse the 6.7% contraction recorded last year.

The agency noted that to achieve the growth rate necessary to move the region forward and reduce social tensions, reforms must be urgently carried out in the areas of infrastructure, education, health, energy policy, and innovation, in addition to facing the new challenges of climate change.




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Job recovery must be common obsession - business chamber


Posted 10/10/2021

The recovery of jobs in Panama must be a common obsession says  the president of  Panama’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture Jose Ramón Icza  in the Chamber’s weekly bulletin.

Small and medium-sized entrepreneurs need to be able to start their operations after 18 months of mobility restrictions and activities closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. "You have to act as soon as possible," he said.

He recalled that the restrictions have finally been almost completely eliminated, "which will allow the reconstruction of the business fabric and the reactivation of its main asset: human resources.".

However, this process will be accelerated "as long as" access to the necessary supports is available. "Hence, the Chamber of firmly supports the immediate implementation of the multi-sector guarantee program agreed upon at the work table between the business sector and the Government."

The union requested the immediate implementation of the joint venture program approved in May by the Executive Branch for the Panamanian tourism sector.

He recalled that at the beginning of the pandemic when the restriction measures were implemented, the Government of President Laurentino Cortizo made available to the business sector, especially small and medium-sized companies, funds provided by different multilaterals.

"However, in all this time their use has been limited, given that the conditions established to access them do not take into account the financial situation of the companies in an environment of prolonged closure," emphasized Icaza.

In a tour that the Chamber has made throughout the country, it has met with entrepreneurs of small and medium-sized companies, who have confirmed the difficulties they have in accessing these credits, revealed Icaza.

He added that everyone agrees that the demands to obtain these loans obviate the current reality caused by the pandemic.

"Given this situation, it is necessary to create a sense of urgency, these credits must be implemented immediately, taking into account the reality described above," he said.



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Index of economic activity up 12.48% - hotels lag


Posted 23/10/2021

The monthly index of economic activity (Imae) registered a growth of 12.48% between January and August 2021 compared to the same period of the previous year, reported the National Institute of Statistics and Census.

The result is a consequence of the higher level of openness this year, which is compared with the months of greater mobility restrictions last year, at the beginning of the pandemic.

Activities such as transportation, storage, and communications register growth, but there are segments, such as hotels, that are at negative rates.



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Panama economic activity up near 15% in 9 months

Posted 24/11/2021

The monthly index of economic activity (IMAE) of Panama between January and September grew by 14.94%, compared to the same period in 2020, which shows "the recovery process after the impact" in the productive apparatus of the health emergency due to the covid-19 pandemic.

In September the IMAE, expanded by 18.02%, compared to the same month of the previous year, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC ) of Panama released  Tuesday.

In the first semester of this year, the Panamanian gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 10%. International risk rating agencies and agencies foresee that the indicator will grow between 8% and 12%  in 2021

The expansion of the IMAE in the three quarters of the current year was driven by the mining industry, due to the export of copper ore and its concentrate, as well as construction, the execution of public investments and the gradual reactivation of many private projects private, said the INEC.

Economic activity showed a positive rate in indicators such as re-exports in the Colon Free Zone, and local retail and wholesale trade, as well as transportation, storage and communications services, due to the good performance of the Panama Canal and the movement of containers in ports.

On the other hand, hotel services continued to show negative rates, especially due to the low influx of tourists, hikers and passengers in transit, the statistical entity said.



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Panama exports on track to pass $3 billion mark by year-end


Copper destined for China and South Korea is Panama's major export.

Posted 24/11/2021

Panamanian exports are on track to exceed $3 billion in 2021, after adding $2.586 billion dollars in the first three quarters of the year.

Roberto Tribaldos, president of the Panamanian Association of Exporters (Apex), commented that it would be the first time in history that Panama exceeds the barrier of $3 billion in the export sector.

Of the $2,586 billion, $2,031 billion relate to the shipment of copper extracted from the open-pit mine located in the Donoso mountains, Colón province.

Excluding copper, the rest of the export basket closed with an increase of 13.2% to add $555 million

Tribaldos commented that non-food products such as rum, paper, and cardboard, lubricating oils, medicines, and wood have registered growth of more than 40%, while others such as bananas, shrimp, palm oil, cocoa beans, pumpkin, and watermelon also registered a positive behavior. In the case of coffee, the product has not yet recovered from the weather conditions recorded in November last year.

China, South Korea, Spain, Japan, Bulgaria, the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands are the main destinations for Panamanian exports.

In the case of copper, 60% of shipments are destined for Chinese processors, while products such as fruits are sent to the Netherlands.



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Panama shopping centers on the rebound


Posted 25/11/2021

Panama shopping centers are experiencing traffic, between 80% and 90% compared to what they had in 2019 when, they had sales of approximately $400 million and are now at $300 -$320 million which "is very positive" says Nadkyi Duque president of the Panamanian Association of Shopping Centers (Apacecom), but he warned of the possible increase in prices due to the global crisis that in the supply chain as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

 He said it is very encouraging that in a short time of almost a year after having reopened, we have these figures," the result of the commitment made by private companies and the effectiveness of the government with vaccination and the behavior that users of businesses have had. "It is the result of the commitment acquired," he said.

On Monday, November 21, the Minister of Commerce and Industry of Panama, Ramón Martínez, affirmed that the vaccination plan has been a fundamental piece for the economic recovery of the country.

Martínez pointed out that during the first semester of 2021 an economic growth of more than 10% was observed and a growth of 12% is projected at the end of this year (2021).

In addition, he added, that through the Association of Shopping Centers an increase of over 25% was observed in sales; and from the point of view of the banks, there has also been an increase in bank loans of the order of 20%.



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Dark clouds over Central America Black Friday


Posted 27/11/2021

Posters with offers of up to 70% on selected merchandise, in Central America's shopping centers but few shoppers are taking the Black Friday bait.

In Albrook Mall, the largest shopping center in Panama, there were people walking, but in stores, there were few buyers, a very different image from other years, in which shoppers arrived in massive numbers waiting for the shops to open.

Panama is experiencing an acute economic crisis from the covid pandemic, with unemployment currently hovering around 14.5% after having reached 18.5% in 2020.

Panama is a shopping destination for many residents of Central and South American countries and for five years in October it has been celebrating the "Panama Black Week".

In Costa Rica, the day passed without a major influx of people to the shops, but most of the stores implement a "black weekend" and even a " black November "with promotions that go beyond a single day.

The pandemic has also forced stores to adapt and make online sales one of their strengths. Traders have said they expect sales to exceed 2020, but not previous years.

In Nicaragua, only the large chains exhibited offers in shopping centers, where there were people walking and buyers with the odd bag, while in popular markets the attendance was normal.

In El Salvador,  and Guatemala Efe found a good influx of people walking through the corridors of shopping centers but not in stores.

In Honduras, Black Friday,   was a precursor to Sunday’s election and sales have been "low," as the salesperson of an electrical appliance store told Efe, but In Tegucigalpa, some supermarkets register had long lines as customers stocked up on food, due in part, to the electoral uncertainty. "It is better to be prepared, we do not know what will happen after Sunday's elections," said Carmen Salinas, who made a long line to enter a supermarket south of the Honduran capital, told Efe.

In Sunday's elections, more than 5 million Hondurans go to the polls to elect the successor to Juan Orlando Hernández, who was re-elected in the 2017 elections, in which the opposition alleges that there was "fraud."



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