Panama Ranks 3rd in LatAm/Caribbean for International Franchise Investment




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Panama is a hot market for a variety of international investments. And for the most part, a lot of the consumer investments revolve around major international franchises. This has a lot to do with consumer culture in Panama, as well as Panama’s reputation as an international tourism and business hub. People who shop in the Panamanian market expect a world-class product brand experience, which makes franchising in Panama so attractive. And if you follow the data for Latin America, Panama is one of the top countries for international franchise investment.

What places Panama near the top of the list for international franchise investment?

When it comes to international franchise investment, Panama still ranks behind both Costa Rica, and Guatemala. But for its domestic market size, that’s still a big deal. The biggest deal is the rate of growth that Panama has had amongst small and big market franchises over the past ten year. Panama’s population is relatively small by Central American standards, and their consumer market has only flourished over the past ten or so years. Panama now boasts over 200 different international franchises, which supply the market via both local and expat owners. The majority of this investment has come in the past five years, with major investment going into retail, food, and hotel services.

The benefits on investing in global brands in Panama

Investing in Panama is always a multifaceted proposition, and investing in global brands is hot right now. The main reason why this type of investment is popular is that the consumer culture responds very well to it. In other words, consumers in Panama, whether they’re local, tourists, or expats, seem to react very well to recognizable brands and services. But it’s not draining money out of the country. By investing in franchising, you’re investing in a foreign brand within a local market. So from the Panamanians’ perspective, foreign franchise growth is actually domestic market growth. It’s just branded differently.

Betting on the future, while taking advantage of a solid current market

Like most future investments in Panama, international franchising is based a lot on predictions of sustained economic growth and development. But that doesn’t mean that the returns aren’t there in the immediate timeframe. Consumers are buying up franchise-driven products faster than ever. And even though that is expected to go up, it’s still (according to data) the 3rd hottest market in the region. Another key factor in the future of international franchising in Panama, and Latin America in general, is that local franchises are starting to take a piece of the pie as well.

Creative branding, and a high profit product in the international market, has inspired Panamanian companies to copy the model and create their own domestic franchises to compete with the big global ones. Solidifying reliable foreign investment into Panama’s private sector, whether it’s an international franchise or not, is critical in establishing a strong base for Panama’s expected future growth. Regardless, the demand is there and the market is hot. 

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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