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Wednesday, July 30 2014 @ 11:20 PM EDT

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Law 41 Affects Agreement With The European Union

Foreign Direct InvestmentThe European Union gave Panama a warning for applying Law 41, which restricts foreign investment in companies dedicated to auxiliary maritime services.

This law establishes that 75% of the shares issued by companies dedicated to boat and barge services operating in Panama must be owned by Panamanians.

The European Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, sent a letter to the Trade and Industries Minister, Ricardo Quijano, in which he warns the Minister about the effects of the legislation and asked Panama to make the necessary adjustments to avoid “possible negative consequences” in their business relationships.

Law 41 was ratified by the Assembly on June 15 and published in the Official Gazette of the same day. Quijano replied to De Gucht by saying they are consulting the corresponding authorities about the law. (Prensa)

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The APEDE Reports Low Economic Freedom For Panama

Foreign Direct InvestmentEconomic freedom in Panama slightly decreased in the past year due to restrictions on foreign investment, among other factors, according to the Panamanian Association of Business Executives (APEDE).

The rate used to measure economic freedom, in a scale of 5, was placed at 2.85 for Panama between April 2012 and April 2013, less than the 2.92 recorded in the previous corresponding period, according to the report prepared by the APEDE and released on Monday.

The closer it gets to 5 the greater the economic freedom, according to the scale used by the Panamanian Association since 2002.

"None of the sectors improved, all the sectors remained the same, and we had a small decrease in foreign investment," said Roberto Brenes, president of the Free Enterprise Committee from APEDE in a press conference.

The executive did not say what influenced the "decline of foreign investment" and to what extent it did, and the report only mentions the factors analyzed to calculate the index, including restrictions on repatriation of earnings and profits.

In 2012 Panama captured 3 billion dollars in foreign direct investment, according to a report by the Central Institute of Fiscal Studies (ICEF), based in Guatemala, noting that Central America registered the “record” figure of 9.7 billion dollars in this category.

Brenes told journalists that other factors, such as corruption or government spending, affected the Panamanian economic freedom.

The Government involvement in the economy has one of the lowest scores (1.0), due to the State intervention in the Colon Free Zone, Electricity Transmission Company, the National Bingos or the National Lottery Charities, said the report.

The calculations made to prepare the report released on Monday state the Government's participation in the economy represents 47.1% of the gross domestic product (GDP).

However, the score of the government regarding control in banking and finance is 4.0 based on 5, which reflects on the few existing restrictions for opening banks, leaving the financial activity in the hands of supply and demand, said the APEDE in its report. (Panama America)

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Panama And The Netherlands Agree In Strengthening Their Commercial Relations

Foreign Direct InvestmentRepresentatives of the governments of Panama and the Netherlands met today, in order to strengthen their trade and cooperation ties in several areas of interest to both countries, according to officials.

The bilateral meeting was chaired by the Panamanian Foreign Minister, Fernando Nuñez and the Minister of Trade and Cooperation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Lillian Ploumen in the Bolivar Palace, headquarters of the Panamanian Foreign Ministry, explained the entity in a statement.

According to the document, Panama has an interest of strengthening the ties between the Tocumen International Airport in Panama and the Schipol International Airport in the Netherlands, through a cooperation agreement in the areas of operation, aviation security and technology, among others.

Since 2010, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Company increased the operations between Panama City and Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport to six flights per week and from November, Air France and KLM will operate 10 weekly flights to Panama, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

They also agreed to promote tourism through Aruba, a member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In May, a cooperation agreement was signed with Aruba.

The Dutch mission used this visit to officially open its embassy offices in Panama, and according to Nuñez and Ploumen this is “an undeniable proof of the excellent diplomatic relations."

During the meeting with Ploumen, the Panamanian Foreign Minister took the opportunity to reiterate the invitation to the Netherlands of joining the Central American Integration System (SICA) as an extra regional member, in which Panama will assume the pro tempore Presidency starting on June 27.

The opening of the Dutch embassy in Panama is the result of the visit from the Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli to the Netherlands in May, and a result of the diplomatic initiatives taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"Panama gladly welcomes the initiative of the Dutch government of opening an embassy in Central America, in our home, and we perceive this gesture as the recognition of the comparative advantages offered by our country for the Dutch investment projections in the region," said the Ministry Nuñez.

Meanwhile, Ploumen highlighted the excellent relations between the Netherlands and Panama, countries that share the democratic values of modern societies and also constitute the gateway to Europe, and North and South America, respectively.

"Panama plays a significant role in Latin America for its impressive economic development and competitive advantages to foreign investment," said the Dutch minister.

The Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Panama is Wieber De Boer, while the Panamanian Ambassador in the Netherlands is José Manuel Teran Sitton, and they were both present at the ceremony. (Panama America)

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Investors Interested in Panama Had A Meeting With The Minister Of The Presidency

Foreign Direct InvestmentOn Thursday, several international businessmen had a meeting with the Minister of the Presidency, Roberto Henríquez, to seek business and investment opportunities in Panama.

These businessmen were interested in the areas of real estate and hotel industries, profitable areas in the country.

This type of investments from the businessmen Feng Lun, Manuel Brinkschulte and Marvin Li will represent a source of income for the Government and for different employments in the country.

The Minister explained Panama has many benefits: its geographical position; which has access by land, sea and air, as well as its qualified human resources, international financial center, logistics platform and transnational setting. (Telemetro)

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Experts Will Meet in Panama To Promote A Good Investment Climate

Foreign Direct InvestmentThe National Government reported the World Bank Group in Panama will develop in Panama an international conference on June 6 and June 7, in cooperation with the Ministry of the Presidency of the Republic of Panama, the World Bank (WB), the International Finance Corporation (IFC ) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), in order to exchange experiences and identify practices that can be implemented across the region to promote improvements in the investment climate in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The event will be opened by the Panamanian government and also convenes government officials from countries in Latin American and the Caribbean and global experts who have successfully followed the investment climate reforms. Delegations are expected from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

The World Bank Group is helping countries in the region to promote the private sector growth and productivity by supporting reforms to reduce costs, strengthen competition and promote investment.

For his part, the Minister of the Presidency, Roberto Henriquez, said "in Panama we firmly believe that meetings like these increase our capacity to make positive and sustained changes in the quality of life we enjoy in our countries; they help us understand the dynamics of development in other nations and we learn how to translate them into a higher local productivity."

Meanwhile, the Secretary of Economic Affairs and Competitiveness of the Ministry of the Presidency, Kristelle Getzler said "the investment climate reforms help foster the creation of formal employment, entrepreneurship and productivity." "While each country has its own way for improving their business environment, there are many things we can learn from each other on the road," she said.

For 2013, the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean are expected to grow in a 3.5%. According to the World Bank, many countries in the region continue to face challenges that limit local businesses and hinder productivity, despite decades of employment creation and significant improvements in the business environment.

Panama's economy maintains a strong growth, supported by the strength of multiple productive sectors such as tourism, construction of necessary infrastructure aimed to increase productivity and mining, which greatly reduces the risks that have historically plagued the country due to its high reliance on the Panama Canal operations.

According to Hasan Tuluy, World Bank’s Regional Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, "the investment climate reforms are crucial for a sustainable growth and employment creation in Latin American and Caribbean countries.

Meanwhile, Nena Stoiljkovic, VP of Business Advisory Services (TBC) of the IFC, said "The World Bank Group is committed to continue to support reform efforts in the region." (Estrella)

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US Executive Given 7-Year Sentence For Bribing Panamanians

Foreign Direct Investment(Dow Jones Newswires) The U.S. Justice Department said Monday that a Virginia resident who pleaded guilty to bribing Panamanian government officials will receive the longest-ever prison sentence for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Charles Paul Edward Jumet, 53, of Fluvanna County, Va., received an 87-month prison sentence for paying bribes to secure maritime contracts in Panama, a violation of the FCPA, and for making false statements to federal agents. He pleaded guilty in November. "Today's sentence, the longest ever imposed for violating the FCPA, is an important milestone in our effort to deter foreign bribery," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer in a statement. "As this case confirms, foreign corruption carries with it very serious penalties, which can include substantial prison time for individuals who violate the law." The Justice Department statement cites court documents that say Jumet and others conspired to pay more than $200,000 to Panamanian government officials over the course of six years in exchange for awarding contracts to Ports Engineering Consultants Corp., or PECC, to maintain lighthouses and buoys along Panama's waterway. PECC received a no-bid, 20-year contract for the work, and Jumet and others authorized the bribes after the company received the concession, according to the statement. The money was paid to the former administrator and the former deputy administrator of the Panama Maritime Authority and to a former highranking elected executive official of the Republic of Panama. The FCPA bans bribes of foreign government officials by companies listed in the U.S.

Editor's Comment: And what happened to the Panamanian government officials who received those bribes? Not a damn thing. During the last several administrations, starting with Ernesto Perez Balladares, and then continuing with Mireya Moscoso and then Martin Torrijos in Panama, it became standard business practice to expect payments of hefty bribes if you ever wanted to get any kind of work from the Panamanian government. There are many "well known secrets" in Panama - meaning, facts of life that everyone knows about but for some unknown reason no one is willing to talk about. Ernesto Perez Balladares "privatized" much of the Panamanian government during his term in office, and this contract given to (bought by) PECC is a prime example. Prior to this, the Panamanian government was responsible for maintaining the buoys. But with a government contract, bribes, and kickbacks, government officials could farm out the work, collect the payments, and basically use these companies to in effect launder their theft of millions of dollars of government funds and tax dollars. The Panamanian Supreme Court recently ordered the reopening of an investigation into the mishandling of some $40 million dollars handed to the administration of Mireya Moscoso by the government of Taiwan. Of course, Mireya Moscoso's administration ended in 2004, so she was protected with immunity until 2009 by her position on the Central American Parliament (Parlacen). Right now, today, Martin Torrijos enjoys that same protection, or at least he will until Panama pulls out of the Parlacen in November 2010. This one case and the convictions and sentencing of these two US business executives highlights why it simply does not make any sense to pay bribes to Panamanian government officials if you are a US citizen. Why not? Because if one guy decides to drop a dime, then all of a sudden you can find yourself in prison. What about business executives for publicly owned companies, who have stock being traded on exchanges around the world? Think any of those guys paid any bribes in Panama in the past 20 years? Hopefully Ricardo Martinelli is working to put all of that squarely into Panama's past. A commonly heard expression here is that "all politicians are the same." Let's hope this one proves that to be wrong. In the meantime, I still don't understand how and why Panamanians can "square" in their own brains letting the government officials who received these bribes walk, while the executives from the company who paid them go to jail. I mean, is there no national shame in Panama? Aren't they embarrassed? Does anyone care, at all? The message seems to be "our country has always been run by crooks - we know about it, and we really don't care all that much."

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Government Creates New Office to Facilitate Foreign Direct Investment

Foreign Direct InvestmentLa Prensa - PANAMA CITY (Xinhua) The Ministry of Trade and Industry of Panama announced today the opening next year of a new office for investors, to attract foreign capital coming into the country. According to the MICI, this new initiative looks to centralize information, allow foreign investors to make the most efficient use of their time while here in Panama, and in increase the amount of foreign direct investment coming into the country. The Vice Minister of Foreign Trade of Panama, José Domingo Arias, said the new investment office is part of the responsibilities borne by the National Direction for the Promotion of Investment of the Ministry of Commerce. He praised the government's interest in attracting capital to areas like the Panama Pacific Special Economic Area, located to the West of Panama City in what was the old Howard Air Force Base. Arias stressed that one objective of the Panamanian government is to prove Panama's potential as the best place to invest. The Martinelli administration has announced a target of $1 billion dollars per year in foreign direct investment. (Editor's Comment: Good, excellent, wonderful. Hopefully, every action taken by the Martinelli administration will be run through a filter of "how will this new law impact Foreign Direct Investment" or "how will this action be viewed by international businessmen." FDI is absolutely wonderful for growing and expanding an economy, and in a country as small as Panama it really doesn't take all that much - compared to the really big numbers thrown around in some countries like China or the US - to have a tremendous impact. In short, it's all good...)
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International Television and Film Productions Invest Millions in Panama

Foreign Direct Investment By Kathyria Caicedo for Telemetro Reporta - Every day one hears mention that different locations in Panama are being used for the production of television programs and to shoot film footage. According to a report released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, this industry spent more than $5 million dollars in Panama in just the months of July and August 2009. During this period there were five different foreign production companies working in Panama, which translates into an investment of more than $5.6 million dollars. One of the last visits was of the "No reservations" television show with Anthony Buerdain, a renowned chef at the global level. This program is broadcast on the Travel Channel.
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Hewlett-Packard To Open New Regional Center in Panama

Foreign Direct Investment By Kathyria Caicedo for Telemetro Reporta - As part of an expansion plan by Hewlett-Packard in Latin America, the company has decided to establish a Global Services Center in Panama. The objective of this center will be to optimize applications and technological infrastructure, as well as to manage client information. This initiative comes from an agreement between Hewlett-Packard and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in Panama - and as part of the agreement the company has committed to paying for 65 Master's degree level scholarships in the area of Science and Technology. This center, which will cost an estimated $72 million dollars, will also create about 1,000 new permanent jobs in the first five years of operation.
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Multinationals Taking Advantage of Law 41

Foreign Direct Investment By María De Gracia for the Panama America - So far fifteen multinational companies have take advantage of Law Number 41 of August 2007, which provides incentives for international companies to establish their regional headquarters in Panama. The primary benefits received are a total exoneration of income taxes, the possibility of negotiating a fiscal scheme for tributary planning, the exoneration of taxes for services provided to other companies abroad, as well as labor and immigration benefits. The law is known as the "Special Regimen for the Establishment and Operation of Headquarters of Multinational Companies (SEM)." It offers incentives to multinational and transnational companies who offer services or realize business activities for the mother company to other businesses from a base of operations in Panama. (more)
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The Disney in Panama Article Was An April Fool's Day Joke (El Siglo - "Gotcha")

Foreign Direct Investment

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - My friend Jerin Tate wrote and sent via email a gag article on April 1st, intended as an April Fool's day joke, talking about how Disney was going to come to Panama and spend millions of dollars to build a huge park here (here's a link to the original article that ran on April 1st.) Jerin sent me his article via email, and I ran it (as a gag) and included the link at the end of the article which instead of giving you "more information" actually took you to the page on Wikipedia about the history and tradition of April Fool's. Jerin was slick enough in his crafting of this gag article to use a tinyurl.com re-write of the link to the information on Wikipedia, because the actual link to that page is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Fools'_Day, and if that had been included in the article, even the dumbest rock in the box would have figured it out. Many people bought this gag hook, line, and sinker, and I was still getting phone calls and emails several days later. It was both funny and effective particularly because this rumor about Disney coming to Panama has been running around for literally decades. Then over the weekend El Siglo ran a full-paged article about "Disnelandia" coming to Panama, which appeared in their newspaper yesterday, Sunday 5 April 2009, on page 22. The truly hilarious part of all this is that they quoted Jerin's bogus "article" basically word for word, and even included the "facts" about how much money was going to be spent, etc., as well as quoting the bogus "government sources." I guess they never got around to clicking the link at the end of the article. Oh well, live and learn (gotcha - wink). So much for checking your sources, eh? Anyway, happy April Fool's day everyone, even if it's a few days late. As usual, comments are welcomed.

Copyright 2009 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Panama Has "Issues" To Resolve Before FTA Can Pass

Foreign Direct Investment By EDITH CASTILLO DUARTE for La Prensa - Panama has issues that have to be resolved before the bilateral Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Panama will be debated before the US Congress. This, according to the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives of the United States, Charles Rangel, who said through a press release "there are pending questions that must be addressed and actions that must be adopted by Panama before the Congress will consider the Free Trade Agreement," and among these he mentioned specific actions, that Panama must respond to the International Labor Organization and to tax regulations in the banking sector. These issues, says Rangel, have been discussed with the Panamanian Government and Panama's ambassador in Washington, Federico Humbert. (more) (See Comments)
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Walt Disney Coming to Panama

Foreign Direct Investment By Rodrigo Campos, Associated Press Writer Ciudad de Panama—Panama officials confirmed today that the government of Panama has issued The Walt Disney Company the required permits to begin construction on a $658 million theme park near the Pacific Coast. The first phase of the project, which will be named Disneylandia, is set to be completed in November 2012 and will include a theme park, hotels, airport, and production studio. Located on the Pan-American Highway near the entrance to the resort town of Coronado, the 350 acre park is expected to significantly increase the number of tourists entering the Central American country annually. Disney officials cited many reasons for choosing Panama as the new location of Disney, including a dollarized economy, strong democratic government, and the need to give Latin American residents who find it difficult to get an American Visa the opportunity to visit the home of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Disney purchased the land in 2001, and plans to purchase more land in the future for expansion. (more)
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Claro Panama reportedly launches commercial service

Foreign Direct InvestmentTeleGeography.com - According to reports from various South American news sources, including Mexico’s El Economista, Claro Panama, a subsidiary of Carlos Slim-owned America Movil, has launched commercial wireless services. The news comes despite reports last month that the cellco would delay its launch to April 2009 amid delays in the installation of its network infrastructure. America Movil however has yet to officially announce the launch. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Claro Panama will become the fourth mobile network operator in the country on launch, having been awarded a licence in May 2008 alongside Digicel; both operators paid USD86 million for their concessions.
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PriceSmart Announces February Sales

Foreign Direct InvestmentSAN DIEGO, CA -- 03/06/09 -- PriceSmart, Inc. today announced that for the month of February 2009 net sales increased 9.4% to $90.0 million from $82.3 million in February a year earlier. There was one less day in February 2009 than in February 2008. For the six months ended February 28, 2009, net sales increased 17.5% to $626.8 million from $533.4 million for the six-months ended February 29, 2008. There were 25 warehouse clubs in operation at the end of February 2009 and 2008. For the five weeks ended March 1, 2009, comparable warehouse sales for the warehouse clubs open at least 12 full months increased 12.4% compared to the same five-week period last year. For the twenty-six week period ended March 1, 2009, comparable warehouse sales increased 14.4% compared to the comparable twenty-six week period a year ago. (more)
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Bill removes obstacle to trade pacts

Foreign Direct InvestmentJon Ward for The Washington Times - President Obama's signing of the stimulus bill this week removes one of Democrats' longstanding objections to passage of long-sought-after free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, but party leaders said that they are not necessarily any closer to holding a vote on the deals. A little-noticed portion of the $787 billion stimulus adds service workers to the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which provides unemployment insurance, job retraining and health care subsidies to workers who lose jobs to foreign competition. It had previously covered only the manufacturing sector. "This is a major breakthrough," said Howard Rosen, a longtime trade specialist at the Washington-based Peterson Institute who helped draft the legislation. (more)
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Claro Panama delays launch plans

Foreign Direct Investmenttelegeography.com - According to Panamanian news source La Estrella, new licensee Claro Panama, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mexican telecoms giant America Movil, has delayed its commercial launch until April 2009. According to the Luis Chamorro, spokesman for the country’s regulator Autoridad Nacional de los Servicios Publicos (ASEP), the delay comes following problems encountered by the operator in completing the installation of base stations needed for its network. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Claro was awarded a licence in May 2008, paying USD86 million for its concession. Under the terms of its licence it was originally required to launch services and agree interconnection fees with other operators within four months of the award, but this was subsequently extended to the end of the year. Digicel, which was awarded the other licence made available in May 2008 launched commercially in December as planned.
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Executive Cabinet Approves Extension for Puerto Armuelles Refinery Project

Foreign Direct Investment

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - Panama's Executive Cabinet, led by President Martin Torrijos, authorized an extension on a Memorandum of Understanding to the companies Qatar Petroleum International and Occidental Midstream Projects (a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum) to allow them more time to continue their studies related to the potential establishment of a refinery in Puerto Armuelles in Panama's Chiriquí province. Rafael Mezquita, the Minister of the Presidency and Secretary General of the Executive Cabinet, explained this decision will allow the companies to continue to study the feasibility of the project until 31 December 2009. The cabinet also approved other important projects. (more)

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Higer Questions ATTT Rejection in Transmóvil Bid

Foreign Direct InvestmentBy SHELMAR VÁSQUEZ SWEEN for La Prensa - The "Administrative Tribunal of Public Contracts" of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) will investigate the events that caused the Ground Transit and Transportation Authority (ATTT) to remove the Chinese company Higer Bus Company Limited from the public bidding process to provide the first 420 buses for the Transmóvil project. In the document, already was admitted by the Court, the legal representative of the Asian company sustains a legal technicality that supposedly invalidates the resolution of disqualification emitted by the ATTT. In order for their proposal to have been "rejected out of hand," according to Higer's legal representative, this should have been included in the resolution issued on the day of the bid, 29 January 2009, as a proposal that was not presented. But anyway their bid was opened, the contents of their bid was read, and they were included in the resolution. Could it be that the Director of the ATTT (Heraclio Batista) does not know this? the legal representative asked. What's more, Higer also asked the entity to establish who will be responsible to compensate them for damages "if" the Public Ministry determines the letter guaranteeing a bond they presented at the bid in the name of Interoceánica de Seguros is indeed genuine. (See Comments)
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Panama and Korea Explore Free Trade Agreement

Foreign Direct InvestmentBy GILBETO PÉREZ for El Siglo - The Embassy and executive are preparing the ground. The ambassador from Korea in Panama, Gwang Keun Kim, met recently with local authorities to explore the possibilities of signing a Free Trade Agreement between Panama and Korea. Korea is the 12th largest foreign investor in Panama.
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Safe Foods' Cecure Heads To Panama

Foreign Direct InvestmentBy Arkansas Business Staff - Safe Foods Corp. of North Little Rock said Wednesday that its Cecure antimicrobial technology will be used in Panama. "We are pleased to see the further adoption of this proven food safety intervention in markets beyond the U.S.," Curtis Coleman, Safe Foods' president and CEO, said in a news release. The product has recently been deployed for use South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Canada. Coleman said the product has been used in the U.S. poultry industry to provide control against Salmonella, E. coli and other food-borne pathogens. Coleman also said studies are underway exploring the use of Cecure for treating the surface of certain tropical fruits to control bacteria and molds. Safe Foods’ food safety interventions are used in more than 20 U.S. food processing companies and in meat and poultry processing companies in Canada, South Africa, the Middle East and Central America.
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"Gai Kukken Afen Yam" - Raw Sewage Flowing Directly Into the Bay of Saigon in Bocas del Toro

Foreign Direct Investment

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - I just confirmed what I had previously suspected regarding the area of Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro described by La Prensa as "environmentally fragile." I'll say. There's no black water sewage pipe to service the houses bordering that area. Right now the residents living along the shore of Saigon Bay take a crap and "plop" - floaters straight into the ocean. I wonder how the tropical fish swimming playfully amongst the "environmentally fragile" coral and reefs feel about that action. Well, it's probably good fertilizer for the plankton or whatever, and it probably makes for some interesting test results for the nearby research Smithsonian research facility, but it sure as hell isn't the "untouched by human hands" idyllic tropical paradise portrayed by La Prensa this morning. (more, I ain't done yet...)

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Bocas del Toro Marina Hearing Canceled Due To Logistical Complications

Foreign Direct Investment

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - According to a lawyer who is working with the company proposing to build the Harbor of the Americas on Isla Colon in Bocas del Toro, they were forced to cancel the public meeting scheduled for Monday because two of the primary engineers involved in the planning who were supposed to be in attendance could not obtain transportation from Changuinola to Isla Colon. I don't know the specifics, but apparently whatever they had set up fell through and they were basically stranded. Since these two guys were the primary technical people behind the plan, their presence was critical and necessary, and since they could not be there the company made the decision to cancel the hearing and to reschedule for a future date. No word yet as to when that next public hearing will be held. Most importantly, the meeting was not called off simply because La Prensa starting writing about the project, contrary to what they might have you believe.

Copyright 2008 by Don Winner for Panama-Guide.com. Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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Public Hearing on Bocas "Mega Marina" Cancelled

Foreign Direct InvestmentBy RAFAEL E. BERROCAL R. for La Prensa - A public hearing that looked to obtain citizen endorsement for the construction of a megamarina for 435 boats in the Bay of Saigón on Isla Colon was suspended yesterday as soon as this newspaper (La Prensa) warned of the problem. According to the environmentalists, the project called Harbor of America will affect a zone that is environmentally fragile, and would be located in the middle of a protected zone and on coral reefs that have already been identified. The National Authority of the Environment (ANAM) said yesterday the company never coordinated with its regional offices in Bocas del Toro to hold this public forum, but they did not enter in detail on the environmental impact the project would have in this zone. In contrast, the Administrator of the Maritime Authority of Panama (AMP) Fernando Solórzano, said he has asked for more information on the controversial project, and that he would not grant a definitive concession him to this company until all environmental evaluations are complete. Solórzano said the Harbor of America only has a preliminary authorization, which does not allow the company to construct anything in the area until the revision of the case is complete. He also said foreign economic interests backing this mega marina are pressuring for approval, but said approval will not be forthcoming until "all circumstances are evaluated." (more) (Comments Follow)
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Tesoro to Ship Oil to Pacific Through Panama Pipeline

Foreign Direct InvestmentBy Steven Bodzin and Jordan Burke (Bloomberg) -- Tesoro Corp., the largest refiner in the U.S. West, entered a seven-year agreement allowing it to ship crude oil from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean through a pipeline owned by Petroterminal de Panama. The deal for 107,000 barrels a day of pipeline capacity and storage-tank space will let the company move Atlantic oil to its five Pacific Rim refineries accessible by tanker, San Antonio- based Tesoro said today in a statement. The conduit will be ready in the third quarter of 2009, the company said. Petroterminal will build terminals on both sides of the Isthmus of Panama and Tesoro will use their pipeline and storage to blend and ship different crude-oil grades. The terminals will open in the first quarter of 2010, Tesoro said. Companies are seeking ways to ship oil produced in the Atlantic Basin, which includes West Africa and Brazil, to the Pacific markets, where Chinese and Indian demand drive up prices. BP Plc secured 65,000 barrels a day of pipeline capacity from Petroterminal de Panama on May 27. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed and Sarah Simpson, a Tesoro spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return a telephone call seeking comment. Tesoro rose 39 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $9.59 as of 9:31 a.m. in composite trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Before today, the stock had dropped 81 percent this year.
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Digicel Launches in Panama

Foreign Direct InvestmentKINGSTON, JAMAICA -- (Marketwire) -- 12/02/08 -- Digicel, the largest telecommunications operator in the Caribbean and recent entrant to the Central American market, today launched operations in Panama -- its third Central American market and 31st market world-wide -- with an investment of US$350 million.Digicel now offers seamless mobile telecommunication services across Central America, with operations to date in El Salvador, Honduras and Panama. According to the Panama Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Panamanian economy is expected to grow 7.5 percent by 2009. With a population of 3.4million, mobile penetration is currently at approximately 71 percent.Having built the most modern nationwide GSM network in the country, Digicelis well positioned to maximize growth by offering service for the first time to many communities in Panama not previously served by incumbent operators. (more)
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Construction Starts on Former Howard Air Force Base

Foreign Direct Investment Telemetro Reporta - The English company London & Regional Properties started today, Thursday, the construction of a real estate project that will transform the former American Air Force Base into an urban, commercial and tourist center. "We are able to attract foreign investment at a time when it has been practically reduced in other countries in the region," said Panamanian President Martin Torrijos in a ceremony marking the start of construction of the project. The general manager of London & Regional Panama, Henry Kardonski, said "Panama Pacific will have a forceful contribution in the growth of the national economy, by providing the infrastructure necessary to be chosen by the most important companies of world." Panama Pacific brings together commercial, residential, touristic, recreational, and logistical operations in a beautiful setting of natural landscapes. The project, that is developed in the area called the Panama Pacific Economic Area, includes the construction of 20,000 houses and apartments, as well as the a million square meters of commercial space over the next 40 years. It is estimated the project will create about 40,000 new jobs. London & Regional Properties (LRP) in association with Colombian businessman Jaime Gilinski will invest about $700 million dollars to develop the Panama Pacific project. The AEPP was created to develop and attract investments to the former American Howard Air Force Base near the Pacific end of the Panama Canal, to the West of Panama City. Howard was one of the bases maintained by the United States for decades on the Isthmus of Panama to protect the Panama Canal. This and ten other military bases were closed and their infrastructure was transferred to Panama on 31 December 1999, in accordance with the Torrijos-Carter treaty of 1977.
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NYK shuts Panama units

Foreign Direct InvestmentThe JOURNAL of COMMERCE ONLINE - Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK Line), Japan’s largest shipping line in terms of group sales, has decided to dissolve four of its wholly owned vessel-owning subsidiaries in Panama. At a board meeting on Thursday, NYK decided to dissolve Rodman Maritima S.A., Elka Shipholding S.A., Rosa Shiphoding S.A., and Pearl Maritima and Navigation S.A. The decision was made because of an earlier decision to sell the vessels owned by the subsidiaries, the company stated. The company said it will begin procedures for liquidating the subsidiaries after getting approval at the subsidiaries’ respective extraordinary shareholder meetings to be held in a few days. The dissolution of the Panamanian subsidiaries will have only a minimal impact on NYK Line’s overall performance, it added.
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Bominflot Expands Panama Operations

Foreign Direct Investment

By DON WINNER for Panama-Guide.com - (Press Release) Bominflot arrives at the Isthmus! Bominflot is delighted to announce our capability to deliver marine fuels in Panama, with immediate effect. Currently, we are able to offer IF380 cSt, also MDO/MGO on the Balboa side only, utilizing fully Major-approved barges. We expect to be able to extend our service to the Cristobal side shortly, as well as adding other IFO grades. We look forward to receiving your inquiries, and we commit to providing you with our best prices and our unequalled standard of service. Please direct all inquiries for marine fuels in Panama to Robert Lake at Bominflot in Houston, or your local Bominflot office.

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Panama Sees $1.1 Billion in Foreign Direct Investment in First Six Months of 2008

Foreign Direct Investment By Marianela Palacios Ramsbott for La Prensa - Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) entering Panama in the first semester of 2008 reached $1.1 billion dollars, representing an increase of 32.8% when compared to the same period of 2007, according to a report published by the General Comptroller of the Republic. The increases are primarily due to investments by banks and utilities of general license operating in the country. Other areas that have attracted great volumes of foreign investment during the past year are construction, the expansions of port facilities, the entrance of new cell telephone companies into the Panamanian market, as well as projects to increase the generation of electricity. And, according to the economic consulting firm Indesa, everything seems to indicate the flow of FDI will continue to grow strongly in the mid term, unless a strong recession in the United States and the global economic deceleration contracts international investments. “In order to expand the installed electrical generation capacity of 993 megawatts, as is predicted, will require an additional investment of $1.2 billion dollars in hydroelectric facilities over the next five years," said Indesa. And “for the period 2010-2011, $2.8 billion dollars or 53% of the total cost of the expansion of the Panama Canal will already have been invested." Between 2005 and 2007, foreign direct investment represented an average of 17.5% of the gross domestic product. But, according to estimations from Indesa, that indicator will jump to 52.3% in 2011. On the other hand, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) anticipated recently that, in spite of the crisis in the United States, foreign direct investment in Latin America will continue growing this year and that Panama will not be the exception of that rule.
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