I came across PanAmcham´s latest magazine called “Business” (Panamcham is the Panamanian American Chamber of Commerce) which is titled All Roads Lead to Panama. I was just in Rome, so this obviously caught my attention. There is no way we can compare head to head with Rome, however some fundamentals about the comparison seem right. Rome was at the center of its Empire and was an eclectic, vibrant community. Commerce was easy as the roman roads gave good access and the ocean wasn´t too far out, it was a good meeting point for people all around the known world.
Proportions aside, Panama has almost the same characteristics. It has always been a crossroad between oceans and worlds. Panamanians owe a lot to its geographical position, which has literally shaped the nation. Today, Panama is becoming almost a little Hong Kong mixed with Costa Rica. Copa has made sure it developed as the hub of the Americas, and other airlines have seen the convenience of a country that is literally in the middle of everything.
One of the pieces that caught my eye was the one on DHL in Panama. According to the piece, Panama is hosting DHL´s largest hub in Central America. They move about 5,000 packages per hour, an increase of 250% on their previous shipping capacity. They have a brand new 83,000 ft2 hub which cost $4.5 million and includes all the new technology DHL could afford, which probably is a lot. As I´ve streched out in other blogs, this is huge for such a small country (we are only 3 million people). And they aren´t the only ones moving or that have moved regional offices here (Caterpillar, Procter and Gamble, Aventis, Dell, between others).
But think about it: serving the region through Panama is hardly a new concept. The Spanish crown did it back in 1542 moving gold from Peru to Spain or supplies to all the colonies. The railroad moved gold through Panama from California and back up. The Colon Free Trade zone moves all sorts of goods from all around the world, specially China. New ports have been installed, the airport has been remodelled. Now we have DHL, Maersk and other companies enjoying the same benefits the Spanish had almost 500 years ago.
It is good to know some things never change! if you are interested in the article or in AMCHAM or in doing business in Panama, please visit their website at: http://www.panamcham.com/