Business and Sports Hub: Panama

Not sure if this was something planned, but sometimes it is even better when it sprouts organically.

Panama has been for quite a while now, a banking hub for the region. Most recently, Panama´s main airline COPA expanded operations, turning the country into a fantastic hub for the America´s, which facilitated the relocation of multinationals into the country. The Panamanian government also paved the way for these companies to come in through tax exemptions and easier visa procedures.

So far, the country has received 36 multinationals. This year, the Panamanian Government seems to have a goal:  100 companies.  But it isn´t all.  Panama seems to be decided to be the center of main sport events as well.

Last month,the IX Juegos Centroamericanos where celebrated in Panama. The news now is that the country just won the hosting for the Juegos Bolivarianos for 2011.  Panama´s interest on sports is probably fueled by recent glories brought to the country by athletes such as Irving Saladino (who won gold medal in the Olympics) and Alonso Edward, a young Panamanian who got his silver medal but ran shoulder to shoulder with Usain Bolt at Berlin in 2009.  But probably it also responds to a multilateral tourism campaign thought to develop roots larger that just attracting people to events and to trade.  Both activities have a beautiful by- product: it creates educational and professional opportunities at interesting and  productive fields.  And particularly in sports, it seems Panamanians have always had an excellent track record, just to mention the most recent ones: from beisball stars Mariano Rivera and Tito Lee to boxing legend Roberto Duran.

Here is the list of the 36 multinationals already settled in Panama:

Procter & Gamble
inelectra
Sinopec
LG Consulting
Roche
Caterpillar
AIA Services
Hyundai
AES
Total
Volconsa
Endress + Hauser
Western Union
Thunderbird
Peugeot
Halliburton
Pan American Life
Cemex
Moffatt & Nichol
ABB
J. Safra Asset
Kumho
Heineken
Phillips
BMW
Genzyme
Cargotec
Nestle
Hyosung
Mars
SAB Miller
Otis
Ericsson
Adidas
Sanofi Aventis.

Since 2007 several multinationals have moved their headquarters to Panama. The first one to break the ice was Maersk. Today, there are 36 multinational companies in the country and the government´s goal for December 2011 is to reach the 100.  See below the list of the first 36, although including Nestle is probably not fair as they´ve been in the country for many, many years.

But also, it isn´t just about the Multinationals who have come in to inject their energy into the economy. There is also an important group of International NGO´s that have moved to Ciudad del Saber, only 15 minutes away from Casco Viejo.  Institutions like United Nations (with all their different funds and regional offices) and UNICEF have made a mark in the economy.

Today´s Article at Capital Finaciero notes that the multinational executive is spending anywhere between $50,000 to $100,000 in Panama. From school to rentals, they´ve kept the market strong.  So far, they´ve calculated 700 executive families have moved to Panama. And the best is yet to come, as the works of expansion of the Panama Canal have not even started fully.

Here is the list of the 36 “new” kids on the block:

Procter & Gamble
inelectra
Sinopec
LG Consulting
Roche
Caterpillar
AIA Services
Hyundai
AES
Total
Volconsa
Endress + Hauser
Western Union
Thunderbird
Peugeot
Halliburton
Pan American Life
Cemex
Moffatt & Nichol
ABB
J. Safra Asset
Kumho
Heineken
Phillips
BMW
Genzyme
Cargotec
Nestle
Hyosung
Mars
SAB Miller
Otis
Ericsson
Adidas
Sanofi Aventis.

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