Panama was positioned as a first-world center of global commerce at the Business Gateway to the Americas Forum in Washington, D.C. October 4
Key policy makers instrumental in the passage of the U.S. - Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) and prominent executives of multinationals showcased Panama’s logistical prowess and shed light on business opportunities in fast growing business sectors. The conference was organized by Panama's AMCHAM (American Chamber of Commerce).
Among the speakers on logistics were Henry Kardonski, Managing Director of Panama Pacifico; Dean Rodin, Managing Director of Maersk Line Caribbean Cluster; and Juan Carlos Croston, Vice President of Marketing for Manzanillo International Terminal.
Pedro Heilbron, CEO of COPA Airlines introduced the panel of logistics experts and talked about the expansion of infrastructure to accommodate transshipment growth due to Panama’s strategic geographic location. In his keynote address, Alberto Aleman, former Administrator of the canal, projected that 8.4 million TEUs or containers will transit the canal by 2015 and that number will grow to 12 million by 2018. “(Global commerce)...is all about the connectivity,” Aleman said.
Introduced by Dr. Nicolas Ardito Barletta, Director of the National Center for Competitiveness, the second half of the program focused on high-growth sectors in Panama and overviews of some of Panama’s largest foreign investors. On the panel were Vice Minister of Foreign Trade, Jose Pacheco; Alberto Diamond, Superintendent of Banks, Panama Banking Commission Superintendence of Banks; Jorge Azcarraga, Vice President for Commercial and Regulatory Affairs, AES Panama; and Mercedes Morris, Director of Public Affairs, Minera Panama.
With a $6.2 billion fully-funded investment, Minera Panama’s copper mining project is not only the largest foreign investment in Panama, but the 2nd largest development in the world. Morris said that copper will be the leading export of Panama in the future, representing 12 -15% of the country’s GDP.