martes, 10 de mayo de 2011


By: Felipe Argote

A GDP growth average of nearly 9% in the past seven years. Projections that exceed this average for the coming years. Everyone who comes to Panama after not visiting it in the last ten years is surprised to see the city so changed. It seems like a first-world city, some claim. Everyone wants to do business in Panama. After the global financial crisis, some are intended to cover the reduction of their income from sales in their countries of origin, moving their expectations towards this small country of 78,200 square kilometers and three point five million people. WE received $2,362 million in foreign investment in 2010, an increase of 33% over the previous year.

Why is this sudden appearance of our country as an example for the economies of the area, if just a few years ago a well-known Panamanian Economist stated that "in economy when United States sneezes Panama for sure will have pneumonia?"

Of course that the previous Government and the current boast of being the architects of these wonderful results; as the strategists who have led us even to be considered within countries with investment-grade by companies as Moody's, Standard & Poor's (S & P) and Fitch Ratings. They claim it while all but the very clueless, know that the Government of Martin Torrijos had no idea where he was its political or ideological and therefore economic compass, and the current Government, from the beginning was defined as of the pendulum to the right but they has committed so many rants and made many improvisations that it is difficult to think that they have a defined path or at least a coherent economic approach. Keep in mind that after installing in the Government they had to engage the services of the prestigious firm American consultant Mc Kinsey & Co so define you the economic direction of the Government, at least in the tax field.

In my point of view there is no such miracle and if someone is to foist the alleged miracle is that large group of Panamanians who fought for the reversal of our canal and the ratification of our sovereignty (sovereignty is a good business). Maybe that´s what Donald Trump tried to say.

When we received back our canal and recover all our territory with the departure of foreign troops, the country received the sum of 30 billion dollars in assets. Controlling our canal the country received directly from this operation in less than two years more than we had received since 1914, when opened the via, until his reversion to our country in December 1999. Keep in mind that United States only paid 500,000 dollars annually to us since 1904 until the signing of the Torrijos-Carter Treaty and not a single penny for the 14 military bases, or for the use of water.

Let’s take a look at the economic activities that are pushing the economy and make grow GDP to ratify this assertion. Our economy was based on banana and fishing, it is now the transport, tourism and the construction of high buildings that pull the economy. In the period 2004-2010 only three industries had average growth rate of two-digit: the construction with 14.07%, transport with 13.57%, mines and quarries with 13.6% and hotels and restaurants with 10.4%.

The growth in transport has much to do with terminals of the Atlantic and Pacific ports, which were previously military centers controlled by the US Army for its logistics and are now civilian installations, after a bad experience with Panamanian government administration. This has allowed exploiting our geographical position as a centre of collection and redistribution of containers.

Hotels and restaurants have been the great increase in tourism as the cause of their growth. While the Causeway, Gamboa, Koobe Beach and around the Canal area was previously of security area, and efficiency use to mean less time for vessels, boats and sailboats to leave the country, there are now restaurants, hotels, resorts, marinas, and everything you need to ensure that you boat and sailing ships stop in our territory to get all they need for the trip.

The building has grown due to the growth of the economy based on the exploitation of our geographical position, before it was rejected by the fenced area and close monitoring, to not allow the easing of the blockade of military security.

The increase in the income of the government has allowed the development of the entire infrastructure especially roads and bridges.

Just enough to compare the visitor centre of the Miraflores locks of which earlier invited you out of there as soon as possible and is now a holiday area with restaurant, Museum and gift shop including.
So I repeat that there is no such miracle. The miraculous, if you want to search a prodigy, is that many senior businessmen and professionals in our country that today they're doing good business and walk by the reverse areas, insisted that was not desirable to the departure of the military bases nor the reversion of the canal just because for them it was a business to sell meat, beans and alcoholic drinks to the north Americans or because they had a well-paid job in the military bases. They claimed frightened that the Panamanians were unable to administer the canal, that at the time we the Panamanians take control of the canal it would be a matter of time when it would be swallowed by the weed, while the people from ghettos would swim in the locks with their tubes of tires of the trucks.

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