Panama Weekly News Roundup: April 4, 2014

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Welcome to the Panama Weekly Offshore Roundup! This week, we talk Free-Trade agreements between Mexico and Panama. We look at the real estate market, and where the money’s going. And we learn why seafood exports are at an all-time high. Here’s the latest:

Mexico and Panama Sign Free Trade Agreement

The Latin America World Economic Forum is currently going on in Panama, and there’s already big news coming out of the conference. As expected, Panama and Mexico have signed a Free-Trade Agreement, bringing the Central American nation one step closer to inclusion in the Pacific Alliance. The Pacific Alliance is a regional trade bloc consisting of Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile.

Panama and Costa Rica are among the Central American nations seeking to enter the Pacific Alliance, which covers more than 210 million people and puts an end to more than nine-tenths of tariffs on goods and services traded between its members.

A senior Mexican official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Panama could join the alliance later this year.

According to figures from the Mexican Economy Ministry, total trade between Mexico and Panama was worth just over $1 billion in 2013, the vast bulk of it Mexican exports.


Panama: Shrimp and other seafood exports booming

It seems like everything is booming in Panama these days, as far as trade goes, and seafood exports are surging. A new report shows that between 2012-2013 export sales of local shrimp increased by 85%, bringing in whopping total of $76 million in earnings.

The growth in demand from Asian countries coupled with the rise in international prices explain the sharp increase, and Panama is now seeking to increase its presence in new markets reports

“It is also looking to increase its presence in the U.S. after a recent visit to the seafood trade fair in Boston, which included the participation of Panamanian shrimp cultivating companies such as Camarones de Coclé y Cultosa, who were able to make contact with potential U.S. importers.”

Source: Newsroom Panama


Panama Capitalizes on Glimmers of Resurgence

With the country in the midst of an economic, and real estate boom, the New York Times takes a look at the market, and who’s buying. Surprisingly, a lot of buyers are mulinationals who have already relocated here, with the window of opportunity growing as investment and immigration grows.

Such optimism in the residential market is fueled by the continued strength of the local economy, analysts say. The $5.2 billion expansion of the Panama Canal is scheduled for completion in 2015, although it has been mired in dispute and work suspensions. And First Quantum Minerals, a Canadian company, is planning a $6 billion copper mining operation in western Panama.

For example, apartments selling for $186 a square foot six months ago now are selling for $205 to $214 a square foot, said Duncan McGowan president of Punta Pacifica Realty, a local estate agent (Panama real estate is typically transacted in dollars.)

Source: The New York Times


Guide to Presidential Elections in Panama

It’s nearly election time in Panama, and that means that politics are in full swing. Learn more about how Panamanian elections work, who the leading candidates are, and what they represent in our latest blog post.

Panamanian Presidential elections are held every five years, and coincide on the same date with general elections for the legislature, as well as regional governors. The sitting president, Ricardo Martinelli, who is credited for much of the country’s recent success, cannot run again due to presidential limits of one term. His party, called “Democratic Change,” or “CD” for short, is considered the front-runner, with current Vice President Juan Carlos Varela as its candidate.

Trailing Varela by a small margin is Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) leader Juan Carlos Navarro. Though their first names may be similar, Navarro and Varela represent two very opposing political parties who have each spent the last year or so in an aggressive battle to win the votes of the people, and derail any momentum that each other might have going into the race.

Continue reading our Guide to Panama Elections 2014

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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