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Thursday, July 24 2014 @ 06:40 AM EDT

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Positive Panama 2008 Economic Activity

Money MattersPanama, Jan 27 (Prensa Latina) The Monthly Index of Economic Activity (IMAE) of Panama grew 8.27 percent from January to November of 2008, informed official sources. According to comptroller reports the growth was due to the high performance of mining and quarries, construction, transportation, storage and communications, hotels and restaurants. Also noteworthy in that period was trade, real estate and other community, social and personal services. The sector of electricity and water presented a positive rate due to the increase of hydraulic energy as well as a larger invoicing of water consumption. In the mean time, the manufacturing industry presented increases in making paper, non metal mineral products and meats and alcoholic beverages. Other sectors that supplied growth to the economy during the period analyzed were fishing, brokerages and public administration. However, the index in November registered 3.47 percent demonstrating a deceleration in relation to the 4.75 percent increase registered in October.
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Panama's November growth rate slowest in 8 months

Money MattersPANAMA CITY, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Panama's economic growth rate slowed in November to its weakest pace in eight months as a slowdown in the global economy hit the vital shipping sector, the government said on Monday. The economy grew 3.47 percent in November from the same month a year earlier, down from a revised reading of 4.75 percent growth in October. The Comptroller General's office said shipping activity fell, with less merchandise transported compared with November the previous year. The Panama Canal is an important conduit of global trade and a motor for economic growth in the country. Growth slowed in the plastic and metal manufacturing industries as well as in the production of some agricultural products, the government said. The slowdown comes amid growing concern over the impact of tightening global credit markets on Panama's banking sector. The government recently announce it would set up a $1.1 billion fund for banks to draw on if they faced problems with liquidity as a result of tougher lending conditions. (Reporting by Andrew Beatty; Editing by James Dalgleish) Keywords: PANAMA ECONOMY/
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Panama creates $1.1 billion fund to ease credit

Money Matters PANAMA CITY (AP) — Panama's government is borrowing $1.1 billion to create a fund it hopes will ease credit and boost investment amid the global economic crisis. Panamanian President Martin Torrijos says the fund will grant Panamanians low-cost loans to buy homes and expand businesses. The Inter-American Development Bank, the Andean Development Corp. and the National Bank of Panama are financing the project, which will be overseen by the National Bank, one of Panama's two state banks. The global downturn has tightened credit markets across Latin America, further stalling slowed growth. Panama's economy expanded 9.2 percent in 2008 — down from 11.5 percent in 2007, but still one of the highest rates in the region. (Dont' Miss Comments)
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FTA BETWEEN PANAMA AND HONDURAS TAKES EFFECT

Money MattersFlorida Shipper - The free trade agreement between Panama and Honduras took effect on Jan. 9. The agreement has an impact on 80 percent of the goods traded between the countries, the Panamanian Ministry of Commerce and Industry said. The deal means preferential deals on the trade of 400 tons of bovine meat and 100 tons of pork meat in two years, as well as quotas on other products such as milk and cheese. Honduras is considered the third-largest market of exports for the Panamanian products.
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Panama's Total Debt Reduced in 2008

Money Matters Telemetro Reporta - Panama's total debt was reduced in 2008 to $10.4 billion dollars, or $31 million less than the total at the end of 2007, according to Finance Minister Héctor Alexander. "The estimated debt balance reached $10.439 billion dollars, of which $8.479 billion corresponds to external debt and $1.960 to internal debt," he said. Alexander added that in the present decade, the relationship of debt to GDP has been reduced from it's highest level of 71.1% in 2001 to just 45% in 2008, reflecting "results unprecedented in the past 15 years." Alexander also said payments for investments reached $2.9 billion dollars in the period from 2006 through 2008, a number very similar to the accumulated current saving for the same period. Alexander defended the economic management of the government of president Martin Torrijos saying this reduction in the national debt is the result of a financial strategy "consisting of generating current savings to finance an ever increasing portion of the program of investments, depending less and less on new debt." (See Comments)
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Economic crisis '09: Latin America to face 'enormous stress'

Money MattersBy Barbara J. Fraser (CNS) - The global economic downturn has cast a pall over the new year in Latin America. While the region's leaders initially struck a positive note in the face of bad news from abroad, most are now drafting plans to create jobs, keep financial systems from wobbling and shore up social programs in case of a prolonged recession. "It's very hard to have an upbeat outlook about the region," where countries "are going to be under enormous stress," Michael Shifter, vice president for policy at the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue and adjunct professor of Latin American politics at Georgetown University, told Catholic News Service. Experts say the crisis will hit poor Latin Americans hardest. It will increase unemployment, pushing more into the informal economy --- without insurance, pensions or other benefits --- and widen the gap between rich and poor. Economic hardship and cuts in social spending may trigger discontent reflected at the polls or in the streets. (more)
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Panama gov't says consumer prices slowed in Dec

Money MattersPANAMA CITY, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Consumer prices in Panama slowed for the second straight month in December as falling energy, utility and transportation costs offset higher food prices, the government said on Wednesday. The Comptroller General's office said the consumer price index fell 0.4 percent in December. Consumer prices in November were down 0.6 percent. Local housing, water, electricity and gas prices dropped 6 percent in December, while transport costs were down 2.3 percent. Food costs, however, rose 1.4 percent. Inflation in the 12 months through December was measured at 6.8 percent. No comparative figures were immediately available. Panama, which uses the dollar as its currency, traditionally enjoys lower inflation than the United States. But last year, high global food and fuel prices combined with strong domestic demand drove inflation rates to their highest levels since the early 1980s. In recent weeks, pensioners and public workers took to the streets to protest the high cost of living. In the 12 months ending in December, food prices jumped 14.9 percent and transport costs rose 10.2 percent, largely due to high international oil and food prices through most of the year. President Martin Torrijos, who faces presidential elections in May, has tried to head off unrest with energy subsidies and food discounts for the poorest families. (Reporting by Andrew Beatty; editing by Gary Crosse)
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Obama to work to pass Bush trade deals: Democrats

Money MattersWASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Barack Obama wants to win approval of stalled free trade deals with Colombia, Panama and South Korea, but further work is needed on two of the pacts, Democratic lawmakers said on Wednesday. "The president-elect wants to work with Republicans and Democrats to get those trade agreements moving," House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel said during an organizational meeting to outline the panel's priorities for the year. Earlier this week, outgoing President George W. Bush said failure to win approval of the three agreements was one of the biggest disappointments of his second term. Bush lost a showdown with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last year when he tried to force a vote on the Colombia free trade agreement, despite concerns that Democrats had raised against violence toward union workers in Colombia. It was never the case that Colombia was "a bad trade agreement," Rangel told reporters. Rather, the issue was "whether the administration was prepared to insist on the protection of labor leaders in Colombia." In the case of South Korea, the main issue blocking that pact was the Bush administration's unwillingness to change auto provisions that many Democrats believe favored South Korea's automakers too much, Rangel said. "If they fought as hard for cars, as they did for beef, we wouldn't have that problem," Rangel said, referring to the strong pressure the Bush administration put on South Korea to open its market to U.S. beef. (Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Anthony Boadle)
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Fitch Affirms Banco General's Ratings; Outlook Stable

Money MattersNEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Fitch Ratings has affirmed Banco General's (Panama) ratings as follows: --Foreign Currency Long Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'BBB'; --Foreign Currency Short Term IDR at 'F3'; --Individual Rating at 'C'; --Support Rating at '5'; --Support Floor at 'NF'. The Rating Outlook is Stable. The rating of Banco General's US$150 million issue maturing in 2010, formerly obligations of Banco Continental, is affirmed at 'BBB'. Banco General's (BG) ratings reflect its strong local franchise, market share, strengthened competitive position, consistent strategy, dependable performance, good portfolio quality and sufficient capital. They also factor in the worsening economic scenario and the increasingly competitive landscape. A long-standing dollarized economy, Panama lacks a central bank or lender of last resort. Banco Nacional de Panama, the largest state controlled bank, could only provide temporary liquidity loans - if needed. In Fitch's opinion, external support for BG, although possible, cannot be relied upon. (more)
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With U.S. economy stuck, economists look abroad

Money MattersBy Jack Chang, McClatchy Newspapers WASHINGTON — As U.S. consumers stop spending and investors keep their money to themselves, government and business leaders hoping to get the country's ailing economy moving again are playing one of their few remaining cards. They're trying to sell more U.S. goods overseas despite the decline of both global demand and U.S. competitiveness. Exports currently make up about 13 percent of the country's total economic activity, far less than the 70 percent taken up by production for domestic consumption. But that's where economic growth can still happen, analysts say, especially as the domestic housing and credit crises promise to freeze spending at home for at least another year. Economists and business leaders suggest the incoming Obama administration implement export-friendly measures such as streamlining U.S. customs operations, negotiating more free trade agreements and developing industries such as alternative energy that can become the next generation of U.S. economic powerhouses. (more)
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