As if there wasn’t already enough great news flowing out of Panama…
During 2006, Panama received more than US$2.4 billion from direct foreign investment. That’s more than twice that of 2005, according to the Panamanian Ministry of Trade and Industry.
No doubt this will contribute to the growth of Panama’s GDP which may exceed 6% this year. The financial gains were made from expanded tourism, transportation, logistics, agriculture and fisheries resources.
Factor in the proposed US$6 billion expansion of the Panama Canal and you can bet countries like the U.S., Japan, China and some European nations will be increasing their foreign investments in our favorite tax haven.
Also good economic news came after a White House meeting in Washington last week between Panama’s president, Martin Torrijos and U.S. President George Bush. “I am committed to a Panamanian free trade agreement because I believe it’s in the interest of the United States that we have a free trade agreement with your vital country,” Bush told Torrijos during the visit.
The free trade deal aims to eliminate nearly 90% of Panama’s tariffs on industrial goods. Immediately, with remaining tariffs phased out over 10 years. The main opposition to the deal comes from U.S. labor unions and their Democratic party allies now in control of the U.S. Congress. The Democrats say they want to force better working standards for Panama workers before any trade deal. But in fact some argue that the true reason for U.S. union opposition is an unfounded fear of losing American jobs, although Panama is not a major manufacturing country.