Panama has a number of very important projects in the New Year, which include the Fourth Bridge Project over the Panama Canal and a monorail train. This was disclosed by Ambassador Ruben Eloy Arosemena Valdes of Panama in Seoul at a New Yar interview recently conducted by The Korea Post media. Details of the interview follow:
Question: What are the major New Year development plans of your esteemed country in the New Year in economic and political fields in the 2017?
A: First of all let me express my gratitude to Chairman Lee and the Korea Post for this opportunity to promote and talk about my Country, Panama and second on behalf of my wife Ana Lorena and all the Embassy Staff to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous and successful New Year.
Well, 2017 will definitely mark a very important juncture and the beginning of a new agenda on public investment for the government presided by H.E. Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez, President of Panama, like the Fourth Bridge Project over the Panama Canal and a monorail train. The first one will be built to the north of the existing Bridge of the Americas, the project will be an extension of the North Corridor and will include the construction of 6 new vehicle lanes and 2 lanes exclusively to the line 3 of the Metro. The Monorail (line 3) will consist of a train that will cross the Canal by the new bridge linking the city with the nearby towns of Arraijan and La Chorrera.
The new bridge over the Canal and Line 3 are just two new factors of the process that has been launched for the development of logistics connectivity of Panama, and the decongestion of major roads in the country.
A new Container Port (PCCP): This new terminal will be built on Margarita Island in Coco Solo, that was the former American naval base known as Fort Randolph.
The project will have a total area of 37 hectares, 4 docks and will be able to receive ships of 18,000 TEUs. The terminal will have a capacity to handle around 2 million TEUs per year.
As a result of the investment of the Government and our sustained economic development, new business opportunities were born in all sectors: Tourism, Mining, energy and logistics.
Q: Any promotional plans for further development of relations between Korea and your country, including the possible dispatch of an economic delegation to Korea?
A: There is high interest of the National Government to carry out the Presidential official visit to Korea, which was scheduled for the first half of 2016, however by previous commitments the new dates are being evaluated for 2017. However H.E. Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, Vice President of the Republic and Minister of Foreign Affairs is set to visit the Republic of Korea for the FEALAC Foreign Minister’s meeting to be held in the Metropolitan city of Busan on May 27th of next year, this
would also be a good opportunity to enhance a series of approaches and meetings with political authorities and marine port sector as an advance follow up for President Varela’s official visit.
On the other hand we are also trying to have a Panama Invest in Seoul for next year in order for Korean businessmen and entrepreneurs to learn about the investment opportunities in Panama, mainly taking advantage of the benefits of the expanded canal and the logistics platform.
Q: Please introduce the Head of Government of your country with a copy of the portrait photograph of the Head of Government.
A: President Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez, an industrial engineer, businessman and entrepreneur, Actual President of the Panameñista Political Party, born in Panama whose family hails from Herrera Province was former Vice-president of the Republic of Panama from 2009 to 2014, and Minister of Foreign Affairs from July 2009 to August 2011 took office on July 1, 2014. Under his administration has introduced the Government’s 5-year Strategic Development Plan 2015-2019 which rests on two pillars of inclusion and competitiveness and includes five themes: Enhancing productivity and diversifying growth, enhancing quality of life, strengthening human capital, improving infrastructure, and improving environmental sustainability, including management.
President Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez’s administration is and has been committed to adopt legal frameworks necessary for a more secure and transparent financial system in the region and a fiscal policy focused on a financial discipline and optimization of public expenditure to achieve goals of social investment in a fiscally prudent manner and a socio-economic growth guided by an increase in our productive and competitive capacity.
Q: In what areas are the areas of economy where Korean companies are welcome in your country? Do you have any specific Korean business organizations in mind favorably considered for economic cooperation with your country?
A: Korea has expressed great interest in investing in the energy sector of Panama, which we believe will strengthen the energy matrix in benefits in costs of business structures and to final consumers.
Other areas of cooperation of Korea and Panama could be: Western Logistic Center micro, small and medium-sized enterprises transportation, logistics and distribution agriculture and livestock including agro-industry; industrial and commercial; renewable energy and improvement of the business environment.
Q: Please state whatever other important details we might have left out from the above questionnaire.
A: To conclude I would like to add that despite economic constraints and deceleration on the region during this year, which we did not escape, Panama’s growth remains robust and on a solid footing, closing 2016 according to forecasts of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean with 5.4%, IMF with 5.2% and finally the World Bank’s predictions with 5.6% accordingly, nevertheless all coincide that projections for 2017, Panama will be the fastest growing economy and will exceed the major economies of the world with an expected growth rate of 5.7%. - 6 %.
We obviously hope that Korea deepens greater investments in business of goods, services and technology products due to the recent signed FTA between Korea and Central America. The Republic of Korea is an important and strategic partner to Panama partner because it represents:
The second trade partner of Panama in Asia, second only to China.
The sixth user of the Panama Canal.
A major trading partner in our logistics operations and redistribution of Korean goods to Latin America from the Colon free zone. The potential of the maritime and logistics industry contributes a 33.5% to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country, three times more than 15 years ago, when the Panama Canal was not reverted to Panamanian administration.
Among the elements to highlight, product of the FTA, that it strengthens the structure of services in Panama promoting the Colon free zone, is the acceptance by that partner (Korea) of the "re-export certificate" with which we seek to continue to contribute to consolidate to Panama as a Logistics Centre for storage and distribution of goods to the service of the international trade, through the recognition of this certificate issued by the Panamanian Customs authorities which keeps the origin of goods and trading the Korean products with preferences with other commercial partners that are not part of the Treaty.
Being Panama a small and service-oriented economy, the Republic of Korea represents a strategic partner for our platform of services, mainly in sectors such as logistics, maritime, tourism, distribution and redistribution of goods, and our international platform for passenger and cargo air transportation; what we call the Center or hub of the Americas.