Panama’s Economic Rise: 1999 to 2013 [Infographic]




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It’s official. Panama’s success over the last decade has been largely built on a few major cornerstones, including tax incentives and increased canal revenue. Moreover, with growing efforts to promote economic growth and diversity, Panama has experienced an unhindered economic rise since 1999. The recent real estate boom and interest in tourism has further helped bring in investors, and transition Panama into a regional economic power.

Checkout the infographic below that shows 9 economic stats that compare Panama in 1999 to 2013, and the data is clear – Panama has successfully transitioned away from U.S. control and into a regional economic power.

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The growth of the world’s second largest free trade zone, the Colon Free Trade Zone (FTZ), has seen imports and exports grow more than 3 fold since 1999. The vitality of the Panama Canal route and the benefits of operating within this FTZ have ensured that investment and trade in the area is still booming, sending GDP soaring.

Panama is also tackling its issues with poverty and wealth inequality, with the level of people living below the poverty line dropping to its lowest ever percentage – from 37% in 1999 to 27.6% in 2013.

Industrial production has also taken off as the country experiences an unprecedented period of growth, with the large number of industrial and real estate projects dotting the capital and coastal regions driving this trend. Growth averages 4-10% in construction and industries annually, having risen considerably since the US handover.

Yet, there is one major facet of the country’s economy that is impossible to overlook or ignore – the Panama Canal. Standing as a bastion of economic prosperity and as the foundation of the isthmus’ success, the Panama Canal has gone from strong to stronger since the United States handed it over to the Panamanian government. This has taken the form of huge increases in revenue, profitability and volume of ships transiting the waterway. Alongside these positive gains there has been an increase in the size and diversity of Panama’s economy, allowing the country to weather the financial storms of 2008/2009 with ease.

All in all, Panama is a small country with a surprisingly robust economy, dynamic banking sector, friendly tax laws, and a booming construction industry. This diverse portfolio of development has ensured that the country continues to grow faster than its neighbors, and even faster than most countries worldwide. With increasing standards of living and further foreign investment, Panama is one of Central America’s great success stories, and the future looks bright.

Our infographic details some of the extraordinary growth in the country, as well as providing facts and figures to tell some of the economic and social story of Panama.

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, Panama Offshore Legal Services 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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