Weekly Offshore Panama News – Nov. 8, 2013




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Welcome to the fifth edition of our Weekly Offshore Panama News roundup. So, what has been the story of Panama this week? Presidential Candidates laid out their vision for Panama’s maritime and offshore industries, Panama positioned itself as the “logistics center of the Americas”, pressure on international offshore havens brought Panama back to prominence for investors, and infrastructure improvements were proposed for Panama’s second city – Colon.

Debate has also raged over a series of democratic wrangles between incumbent President Ricardo Martinelli and the Panamanian Supreme Court, which analysts on both sides have been dubbing a “battle for democracy”. Catch up with this and more in our Weekly Offshore roundup from the isthmus!

 

Presidential Candidates Provide their Views on Panama’s Maritime Industry and Offshore

The candidates in 2014’s Presidential elections in Panama have put forth their opinions on the maritime industry in Panama, taking in everything from shipping to logistics. The Chamber of Shipping was present and was pleased to see so many candidates commit to the goal of Panama as the “Logistics Center of the Americas”. It is expected that candidates will support initiatives beyond even the Panama Canal expansion, to help further this goal.

“The Board of Directors of the Panama Chamber of Shipping has developed talks by presidential candidates for the general election of May 4, 2014, as a two-way feedback for mutual benefit, said the president of the CMP, Willys Delvalle.
On the one hand, this allows the nearly 200 members of the Chamber of Shipping to know the plans of the presidential candidates on the maritime and logistics industry, and provides for the free exchange of proposals and ideas with political leaders knowing their problems, aspirations and expectations, Delvalle said.”

Source: The Bulletin Panama

 

Panama’s Canal LNG Surprise to Redefine Trade in Fuel

The explosion in trade with the completion of the Panama Canal Expansion won’t strike anyone as a surprise, yet the amount of fuel planned to traverse the waterway may still elicit a gasp or two. Currently only 4% of the world’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker ships fit through the Panama Canal, but this is soon to expand to 89% – a huge raise in tolls and opportunity. Over 850 crossings are expected to be undertaken by LNG ships in the first decade, with the new market set to grow rapidly upon completion of canal works.

“Construction to double the canal’s capacity is 64 percent complete, the Panama Canal Authority said on its website Sept. 10. The expanded waterway will be able to handle ships as long as 1,200 feet and as wide as 160 feet, compared with the current 965 feet and 106 feet, data on the website show.

That will accommodate 89 percent of the world’s LNG carriers by 2015, Silvia Marucci, a liquid-bulk specialist at the canal authority, said at a conference in Singapore Oct. 30. LNG tankers will cross the canal about 850 times by 2025, she estimates. Only 4 percent of the 369 ships can fit through the waterway now, and just six of the vessels have entered in the past five years, according to data from IHS Maritime, a Coulsdon-based research company.”

Source: Bloomberg

 

Pressure on UK Offshore Banking Increases Opportunity in Panama

The previously unregulated world of British offshore banking is coming under increasing scrutiny and being brought under the international regulations which countries such as Panama are abiding by. The news will come as a blow to the undeclared owners of businesses in British territories such as the British Virgin Islands and Isle of Jersey, but as a boon to those seeking new territories for offshore investment – including Panama.

“The secret owners of thousands of British businesses will be exposed to the public today under a transparency drive launched by David Cameron.

The Prime Minister is due to say that a “cloak of secrecy” surrounding British corporate ownership has resulted in “questionable practice and downright illegality”. He will announce plans for the first public register of the true owners behind anonymous “shell” companies, which have been associated with tax evasion.”

Source: The Times

 

Panama Changing Paraguay’s Status to “Friendly Country”

Panama and Paraguay have taken a further step towards integrating markets and businesses, with Paraguay recognized formally as a “friendly country”. Alongside some changes to immigration and visa, benefitting business owners in both countries, the two nations are working bilaterally to grow their economies. Panama is keen to access Paraguay’s natural resources, while the Paraguayans see Panama as a hotspot for investment over the next decade.

“Panamanian Foreign Minister Fernando Nunez Fabrega reported today, Wednesday, that his country will recognize Paraguay status “friendly country”, and comprising a system of permanent immigrant visas for investment attraction and professionals who want to work in Panama.

He explained, receiving in his office the Paraguayan ambassador in Panama City, Cándido Aguilera, that the non-inclusion of Paraguay in the list of “friendly country” “is the result of an oversight that will be corrected promptly,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Panama in a statement. In the bulletin explained that the issue was mentioned during the meeting in which they discussed issues of bilateral interest, and after the Panamanian Minister Aguilera manifest the desire to achieve the inclusion of Paraguay in the list “friendly country”, they belong to some 30 nations.”

Source: La Prensa

 

Colon’s Cinta Costera: A New Beginning for Panama’s Second City?

Colon has, aside from the monumentally successful port and free trade zone, been left to decay by successive Panamanian governments. With little historical incentive to invest in the city at large, the government is now investing in Colon’s future with a series of infrastructure projects designed to boost the city’s prestige and reputation – as well as address fundamental problems faced by the urban center. The most symbolic of these changes is the Cinta Costera development, an initiative to restore the seafront of Colon and make a safe haven for tourists, businesses and locals to enjoy at all times of day. Cut from the same cloth as Panama City’s own Cinta Costera development, the government is hoping for regenerative effects to show themselves from day one.

“Reclaiming space for the public to use through an injection of services, activities, and landscaping, the original Cinta Costera has shown that the passive effect of having such a wonderful space can transform the local area.

The ambitious project is planned along the waterfront of Colon, with the Director of Planning at the Ministry of Economy and Finance (Anayansi War) spearheading the initiative alongside Governor of Colon Pedro Rios. The design will wrap around the existing waterfront, creating areas of beauty and communal spaces such as soccer courts, fountains, walkways, and gardens. The idea for development predates that of its contemporary in Panama City, although the viability of the project has only just become a reality. At $3.5 million dollars, it is one of Colon’s largest public works in many years.”

Source: Bala Beach

 

Panama in a Crucial Hour

Panama is experiencing angst over a conflict between the office of the President of Panama and the Supreme Court (and other government institutions), which is currently being talked about as crucial to Panama’s democratic process. Critics argue that Ricardo Martinelli is overstepping his role as President while advocates suggest that Panama needs to cut through red tape more quickly.

Source: La Prensa

 

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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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