Tuesday June 12th:
The Director of Moody’s Latin America, Alberto Jones annoucned today that Panama had the highest growth rate in the Western Hemispherein 2011-7%. He also said Panama has an excellent debt to GDP ratio-40% of GDP. Panama is projected to have a growth rate of 7% again in 2012, according to Mr. Jones.
A 2012 report by the Economist’s magazinesIntelligence Unit on the cost of living in capital cities around the world found Panama City to be the fifth least expensive city for foreigners to live in the world. Panama City is cheaper than any capital city in Latin American region. That is for Panama City- many places outside Panama City are even cheaper.
For locals, Panama is not as cheap- this is a rating for foreigners who live abroad and the basics they need.
But for retirees it is even cheaper- Panama has the best Retired Persons discount program in the world including 25% discount on airfare, restaurants and hotels. See Panamainfo.com’s article :The Advantages of Living in Panama” for details.
The International Surfing Associationtenth edition of the DaKine ISA World Junior Championship will take place at La Playa Venao April 14-22, one of three such events this year that is drawing attention to the challenges and beauty of surfing in Panama. Congrats to the surfing sector and ATP and keep it up.
Panama was the venue for this year’s Ironman competition Sunday February 12th. Lance Armstrong, the world’s most famous runner participated and came in 2nd.
The course was unusually varied and beautiful. Athletes swam 1.2 miles (1.9 km) in the Pacific Ocean at the entrance to the Panama Canal, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. They then biked 56 miles (90 km), first crossing the Bridge of the Americas connecting Central and South America en route to the Pan-American Highway. The 13.1 mile (21 km), two-loop run course took the athletes through the Amador Causeway, a major tourism area surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, where they can watch ships transit in and out of the Panama Canal while enjoying the beautiful view of they city.
Ironman is another major event for which Panama was chosen just after last weeks USA Bachelor TV program.
Monday February Panama j hosted The Bachelor, the popular American “find- a wife- series.” This was great opportunity for Panama to show off the modern city city of Panama and a variety of nearby attractions.
Most of the program was in Panama City, the capital of Panama. The Bachelor, and the girls stayed at the iconic Trump Ocean Club hotel- called the only 7 star hotel in Latin America. The rooms and social areas show in the various segments filmed showcased Trump’s the sumptous , modern design.
For the dates, there was the visit to Embera Indian jungle village just 1.5 hours from Panama City. The contestants dance with the colorful Indians, and got natural tatoos of rainforest dyes painted on their bodies. Right out the the pages of National Geographic.
Another date, was a day on an island in the San Blas Islands, idyllic mostly uninhabited islands in Panama’s Caribbean called by Lonely Planet the most beautiful in the world
Other dates took place in Panama’s historic sector - Casco Viejo- a neighborhood with many beautifully restored buildings and a lively nightlife scene. The dates were dinners on the terraces of several restaurants and some salsa dancing at the famous Havana night club.
This seems to be Panama’s moment- the NY Times just called Panama City “the number one place to visit in 2012″ - The Bachelor program is one more feather in Panama hat.
Not be be left behind by the NY Times calling Panama the # 1 place to visit in 2012, Forbes just published this article on it’s travel guide:
Poised at the junction of North and South America, Panama possesses a laundry list of new attractions, hotspots and luxury hotels that are making it an up and coming travel destination—with the catalyst undoubtedly being the $5.25 billion Panama Canal expansion that’s underway and scheduled for completion in 2014. The aim is to allow a greater volume and size of ships to pass through the historic, 50-mile long waterway. The result? Panama City is transforming into an energetic, modern metropolis, with investors preparing for moneyed visitors by upping its luxury quotient.
Read the rest: http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestravelguide/2012/01/26/why-your-next-trip-should-be-to-panama/
Its was only a months ago that its was announced that Panama reached the 2 million tourist mark for the year of 2011. Tourism in Panama has been growing at an impressive rate and the word must be spreading because the New York Times just released its list of 45 places to visit in 2012, and who is number 1? You guessed it, Panama. Below is the excerpt that explains why.
Go for the canal. Stay for everything else.
It’s been 12 years since Panama regained control of its canal, and the country’s economy is booming. Cranes stalk the skyline of the capital, Panama City, where high-rises sprout one after the next and immigrants arrive daily from around the world. Among those who have landed en masse in recent years are American expatriates and investors, who have banked on Panamanian real estate by building hotels and buying retirement homes. The passage of the United States-Panama free trade agreement in October is expected to accelerate this international exchange of people and dollars (the countries use the same currency).
Among the notable development projects is the Panama Canal itself, which is in the early stages of a multibillion-dollar expansion. The project will widen and deepen the existing canal and add two locks, doubling the canal’s cargo capacity. For those who want to see the waterway as it was originally designed, now is the time. The expansion is expected to be completed by 2014, the canal’s 100-year anniversary.
Other high-profile projects include the construction of three firsts: The Panamera, the first Waldorf Astoria hotel in Latin America (set to open in June 2012); the Trump Ocean Club, the region’s tallest building, which opened last summer; and Frank Gehry’s first Latin American design, the BioMuseo, a natural history museum scheduled to open in early 2013. Even Panama City’s famously dilapidated historic quarter, Casco Viejo, has been transformed. The neighborhood, a tangle of narrow streets, centuries-old houses and neo-colonial government buildings, was designated a Unesco World Heritage site in 1997 and is now a trendy arts district with galleries, coffeehouses, street musicians and some of the city’s most stylish restaurants and boutique hotels.
Across the isthmus, on Panama’s Caribbean coast, theBocas del Toro archipelago has become a popular stop on the backpacker circuit, with snorkeling and zip lining by day and raucous night life after dark. FREDA MOON
Thanks largely to Panama’s phenomenal Copa Airlines, Panama is now the most connected country in the Caribbean and in all Latin America- with 59 direct flights from its Tocumen International Airport to 28 countries. The most recent country is Canada with direct Copa flights to Toronto.
Panama is called the Hub of the America’s and indeed it is in terms of flights. But not only flights- Panama has replaced Miami as the preferred business hub for both meetings and shopping for the Caribbean and Latin America. Panama, whose GNP grew at nearly 10& in 2011, is benefiting as the logistical center of the faster growing emerging markets economies in the region.
Copa Airlines is building another terminal at Tocumen at the cost of 100 million dollars in anticipation of continuing growth in both Panama and the region. In 2012, Tocumen is expected to have direct flights to 65 destinations and in 2013, 70.
The Free Trade Agreement just passed will be implemented within a year and will attract an estimated 30% increase in American companies setting up in Panama for business.
Those Amazing Panamanians
November, La Republica, Costa Rica
(Panamainfo Note: Costa Rica is usually very proud of being # 1 in the region, so this article is especially gratifying. This our translation- the article is originally in Spanish )
Do you remember that advertisement for some brand of cars or electronics that said: “those amazing Japanese”?
The advertisement stressed the idea that the Japanese were capable of doing anything no matter how difficult it seamed.
What the Japanese were years ago—capable of surprising everyone with their abilities in the technological field—is what the Panamanians are today. They are leaving others perplexed by their business acumen and efficiency in carrying out large infrastructural projects in a heartbeat.
It is not necessary to review the miracle of the canal—the shock given to an incredulous world by the ability of a small Latin American country to efficiently and skillfully administer something as important as the Panama Canal.
Nor is it necessary to look at their daring move to expand the canal to accommodate the latest super-tankers, a project that is already well underway and is set to be completed on schedule.
Everyone already knows how they were able to build land on the ocean in order to expand its highways to make the magnificent coastal beltway that brought together the city and air terminals, and facilitated urban transits to newly developed areas. It is also well known how they renovated the Tocumen International Airport and turned it into the best air terminal in the region and the most important and connected transportation hub in Latin American in just one year. We also now about the dizzying speed of the development of Colon as the premier free trade zone of the subcontinent, about the majestic renovation of Casco Viejo and the construction of the Metro in the City of Panama.
Nor are their advances in international tourism unknown, which threaten to displace us as a destination for adventure, beaches, city life, business incentives, etc., nor the number of hotel rooms that thousands of foreigners occupy every year in the City of Panama and in the interior of the republic as second homes, which fuel the contruction industry creating thousands of jobs and millions in revenue for the Canal Treasury.
We are all aware of the magnificent campaign of incentives for conventions that this country now offers which has caused hundreds of international organizations, NGOs and private companies to choose Panama for their meetings and fairs.
What I would like to comment on is that last surprise, the type that wait for me every time I got o panama, that I discovered at my arrival to Tocumen while I went through immigration. The women who was happily attending me extended her hand to give me a pamphlet which read: “If you are a tourist and have a medical emergency, Panama will give you free health insurance for 30 days”. Panamanians don’t know what else they could do to attract more foreigners so that tourists feel safe, at ease and happy when they visit.
Panama is know only becoming a much safer destination than any other country in the region, but how they’ll insure you too, for free!
This new program of the Panamanians includes free assistance in the case of hospitalization caused by an accident or sickness, medical treatments, hotel expenses while you recover, dentist or pharmaceutical expenses, legal assistance, repatriation in the case of death, plain tickets for fellow travelers and even a reimbursement of expenses in the case of delayed or cancelled flights.
All the while we the Ticos, once the Switzerland of Central America, are occupied by silly and fruitless discussions about cell phone towers, the platina bridge, if our free trade zones should be paying taxes…
What are these amazing Panamanians going to come up with next?
RECENT PRESS COVERAGE ON PANAMA FOR BUSINESS
On a humid stretch of Pacific coast in one of the poorest parts of the Americas, somebody seems to have misplaced a chunk of Manhattan. The 50-storey skyscrapers of Panama City jut out of the jungle like nowhere else in low-rise Central America. Panama’s smart banks, open economy and long queues of boats at its ports have caused many to compare it to Singapore, another steamy success story. Panama’s president, Ricardo Martinelli, made his country’s first state visit there in 2010 and later said, “We copy a lot from Singapore and we need to copy more.”
Panama is not even one-fifth as rich as its Asian model on a per-person basis. But Singapore would envy its growth: from 2005 to 2010 its economy expanded by more than 8% a year, the fastest rate in the Americas. The IMF expects it to grow by over 6% a year during the next five years. Panama will soon overtake Costa Rica and Venezuela in GDP per head. Accounting for purchasing power, it is one of the five richest countries in mainland Latin America.
The Economist July 2011
The Central American nation replaced Uruguay as having the highest technology level in the region, fueled by a surge of Internet users and computer sales, according to the sixth annual Latin Technology Index from Latin Business Chronicle.
Internet penetration in Panama was up 43 percent and personal computer sales jumped 21 percent, the data show. The index uses 2010 technology data from the International Telecommunications Union, Computer Industry Almanac and the Santiago Chamber of Commerce and population data from the International Monetary Fund and the Population Reference Bureau.
Eduardo Jaen, who heads Panama’s National Authority for Government Innovation, attributes the rise to government support for Internet access and success at luring new businesses into the modern capital. More than 60 corporations, including tech giants Dell and 3M, shifted regional headquarters to Panama since a tax exemption law was passed in 2007.
Latin Business Chronicle 2011
Panama, for the second consecutive year, depicts the strongest competitive position in Central America and is the only country in the isthmus that manages to improve its performance, entering the top 50 at 49th position. The country has remained relatively stable in most competitiveness drivers. Overall, it benefits from important strengths in its efficient financial market (16th), solid transport infrastructures (39th) [first place in latin America], and very good technological adoption (12th), especially through FDI, where it is ranked 4th. In dynamic terms, it is important to highlight the progress the country has made in the quality of its port and air transport infrastructure (5th and 15th, respectively) and its fostering of stronger domestic competition (43rd).
World Economic Forum, Competitiveness Report 2011-2012
José Domingo Arias, vice minister of foreign trade, points instead to the government’s canal expansion – perhaps the largest remodeling job in history – and additional investments in new airports, seaports, railways, and roadways. What the government is doing today, he says, is simply modernizing its traditional industry niche to make Panama a more complete global player as a value-added logistics hub for the Americas. And the push to expand in new directions, he adds, is not erratic behavior, but rather a sign that Panama is grown up and ready to diversify.
”During the colonial era,” says Mr. Arias, “Panama [then part of the Spanish Empire] was a transshipment route to move gold safely from Peru to Spain. And that implied a business of logistics – moving merchandise from the ships to pack mules, then organizing the security of its transport across land, then repacking another ship that would leave for Spain. That was the beginning of our logistics and shipping industry.”
But those 500 years of history suggest that Panama is best suited to be a financial, trade, and logistics center, and risk analyst Ms. Berkman agrees. If the president can stay focused on that, without getting too distracted by other development models along the way, it might yet be enough to turn Panama into Latin America’s only first-world nation.
Christian Science Monitor March 2011
Panama’s government bond rating was upgraded to Baa3 from Ba1 to reflect significant improvement in the country’s fiscal and debt positions and favorable prospects for further consolidation in the government accounts over the medium term….
The country’s economic resilience is strongly supported by a dynamic service-based economy. In recent years, Panama’s role as a transshipment and logistics hub between continents and within the Americas has strengthened. Large scale investments, including the widening of the Panama Canal, should ensure strong rates of growth in the medium term. Despite a short track record of fiscal responsibility, Panama’s institutional strength benefits from general policy consensus among the major political forces.
Moody’s Credit Opinion June 2010
On July 21, 2011, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services affirmed its ‘BBB-/A-3’ long- and shortterm sovereign credit ratings on the Republic of Panama and revised the outlook to positive from stable. Our transfer and convertibility assessment on the country remains unchanged at ‘AAA’.
· Panama’s GDP growth continues to perform better than expected and we think it will likely remain strong over the medium term.
· Although the government faces challenges in implementing large infrastructure projects, the country’s debt burden has continued to decline.
· As a result, we have revised the outlook on our long-term foreign- and local currency sovereign credit ratings on Panama to positive from stable.
· The positive outlook is based on our view that stronger growth and increased infrastructure spending could result in faster-than-expected improvement in the sovereign’s financial profile.
Standard and Poor’s July 2011
The Rating Outlook is revised to Stable from Positive.
The upgrade reflects Panama’s solid economic growth prospects and favorable government debt dynamics. Panama’s highly favorable investment cycle is underpinned by the Canal expansion, an ambitious public investment program and strong foreign direct investment flows. Favorable economic growth combined with continued fiscal discipline has allowed for a sustained decline in government indebtedness, with debt to GDP of 43% nearly converging with the ‘BBB’ median.
Panama’s ratings are also supported by the country’s stable banking system, political stability and the consensus among political parties on the main thrust of macroeconomic policies. The country’s demonstrated resilience to external shocks is also noteworthy.
Fitch Ratings June 2011
Visit www.meetpanama.com.pa for more information on Panama for investors.