Panama and Mexico Activate Free Trade Agreement – Weekly News Roundup, April 26th.

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U.S. ports prepare for Panama Canal expansion

The Canal Expansion is just one year away from its completion, and ports around the world are preparing for it. It’s no secret that making the Canal accessible to bigger ships is going to bring in more money for many cities and countries, especially some of the big ports in the United States. Here’s why:

“It’s the era of big ships,” said Richard Larrabee, director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is overseeing a $6 billion upgrade to its harbor, container terminals, rail lines and bridges to draw the large ships. The Panama Canal “opened up the notion that we could see ships twice the size we normally do once the canal was opened. That was the real impetus for us.”

Many of the U.S. projects are driven by a variety of factors, the canal expansion being just one of them, said Kurt Nagle, president of the port authorities association. But the Panama Canal Authority’s ambitious goal of keeping up with the trend of larger cargo ships has been a model for many U.S. ports, he said.

Source: USA Today

In Panama, Restoring Streets And Reforming Gangs At The Same Time

Panama’s neighborhoods are transforming, and improving the lives of Panama’s most needy is important for this country to grow. Expat KC Hardin understands this need, and is getting together with some of Panama’s toughest former gang members to help them transform their lives and their community.

Standing just blocks from Hardin’s restored hotel, where a room can go for up to $400 a night, James points to a rundown house. His brother, also a gang member, was shot dead there. The dispute was over a stolen necklace. Both James and his cousin have spent time in prison: Ricky, seven months for a firearms violation; Antonio, three years for what he says was an accessory to murder charge.

Two years ago, with Hardin’s help and a local evangelical church, the men and dozens more began a rehabilitation program. They got job training and self-esteem building. A year ago, they opened a fruit stand and a local bar, and now they cater to tourists instead of robbing them.

Source: NPR

Panama, Toughens Up Legislation Against Money Laundering

Since his election in 2014, Panama’s president Juan Carlos Varela has made it his mission to stamp out corruption in his country. Based on these past few weeks, it seems like the Panama legislative body agrees. Earlier this month, they passed a new set of legislation to help curb financial crimes, specifically money laundering.

The landmark legislation, which requires everyone from lawyers and real estate brokers to casinos and construction firms to report suspicious transactions, is the key component of Panama’s campaign to win a stamp of approval from the world’s richest nations, which in recent years have clamped down on tax havens and shadow banking centers.

Last year, the Financial Action Task Force, an inter-government body representing the world’s most-developed economies, placed Panama on its “gray list” of 19 financial jurisdictions including Argentina, Syria and Zimbabwe that have major deficiencies in combating money laundering and terror financing.

Source: Fox News Latino


Panama’s Free Trade Agreement With Mexico Begins

Last year, Panama and Mexico signed a historic Free Trade Agreement, making them the latest nation to open trade with the Central American nation. This month, that agreement finally went into action. And if you believe, as Panama and Mexico do, that this could open the door to bigger trade agreements, this should be the final piece necessary to bring Panama into the Pacific Alliance.

The Pacific Alliance is a major Latin American trade bloc that was formed in 2011, and currently consists of four countries: Mexico, Chile, Peru, and Colombia. The group has been extremely proactive in building trade relationships in the short time of their existence creating a common market, and driving regional growth through mutual goals and diplomatic cooperation. The strength of this common market is continuing to grow, and will seek new members to increase trade, and reduce ancillary costs to member nations. Here’s the market explained, according to Wikipedia.

The Mercado Integrado Latinoamericano (MILA) originally integrated the stock markets of Colombia (Colombia Stock Exchange), Chile (Santiago Stock Exchange), and Peru (Lima Stock Exchange), and is seen as a foundation for the Alliance’s economic integration. These three stock markets began their integration in November 2010; this made it Latin America’s largest market according to number of issuers, the second by market capitalization, and the third by turnover. 

Read more about Panama’s free trade agreement with Mexico

About Manoj Chatlani

Manoj Chatlani is a Senior Partner at POLS Attorneys, a full-service law firm in Panama City, Panama. Specializing in offshore services, including asset protection, estate planning, offshore banking, and offshore corporations, as well as Panama immigration and real estate transactions, POLS Attorneys offers clients a streamlined solution to all their Panama legal needs. Manoj is a Panamanian lawyer and holds a law degree from USMA and earned a Masters in Communication Law and Panama Tax law.

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