Panama: The Most Globalized Economy in Latin America

Panama has become an international hub for banking and commerce. This is definitely a no-brainer because multibillion-dollar companies such as Caterpillar, General Electric, Dell, Proctor & Gamble and Hewlett Packard have made Panama one of their regional headquarters. In fact, the United Nations also set up a branch in the area as well.

Why would these business establishments invest their time and money in Panama? The answer is obvious and relatively simple – Panama has been rated as one of the best business destinations in Latin America.

A study on Foreign Policy that was conducted last year (2008) revealed that Panama has been rated as “most globalized economy” among Latin American countries. This was based on the criterion on foreign investment (direct), import and export business and technology (high-speed internet services).

According to reports, internet services here in Panama are much better than several major cities in the world. The government is stable and not at all in conflict. The country also uses the U.S. dollar as the official currency so there’s no complication on the exchange rates.

A number of foreign businessmen have rated Panama as one of the friendliest countries in the world. Panamanians are very friendly and hospitable. This may be due to the intertwining of Latin and Northern American cultures. Locals are already used to the influx of foreigners in the area and they have adjusted with that fact.

Another move made by Panama which made it an attractive place for businesses is the government’s implementation of Law 41, a law that was referenced to the one implemented in Singapore. Basically, companies may be given tax discounts, or breaks, and other incentives once they set up their businesses here in Panama.

For business travelers, they won’t have problems going in and outside Panama since a lot of major international airlines are offering non-stop flights to the city. Foreigners who are interested in acquiring a visa to go to Panama won’t have much difficulty, opposed to those trying to get in United States .

What makes Panama a force to reckon with when it comes to international business is the existence of the famous Panama Canal, free trade zone, and tax free business zones for multinational corporations. The canal, which joins the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, makes it possible for shipping vessels to pass through Panama instead of going around the tip of South America. The success of this engineering marvel has put Panama in the higher echelons of stable economies in the world.

Furthermore, the country currently has more than a hundred banks, major ports and other multibillion dollar projects currently ongoing. An annual Gross National Product (GNP) of nine percent, it is the highest among Latin American countries.

Keeping up with its reputation as a globalized destination, Panama is now experiencing a boom in real estate. Therefore, high rise condominiums are now becoming a common site in the nation’s capital. These condo units are reportedly sold at a reasonable price. Foreigners who want to settle here will definitely enjoy a quality life that is similar to their life in their respective home country's. The existence of modern shopping centers, restaurants and international schools make Panama a great destination for business executives and their families.