Week in Review

The fisheries sector accounted for only 0.8% of gross domestic product of Panama in 2012 because fishing yields have plummeted since 2009, mainly due to climate change and high costs. The situation concerns both private organizations and the government itself, as sustainable fisheries and aquaculture play a crucial role in food security and account for 17% of the protein consumed by the world population, according to a report presented by FAO on the situation of the sector in 2012.

Panama seeks air agreements with the Netherlands, Switzerland and France to facilitate communication and development of the airline industry of these nations and the Isthmus of Panama. The information was revealed by the director of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Rafael Barcenas, who also reported possible meetings with officials from Argentina, Canada and Venezuela.

The Director General of Foreign Policy, Ambassador Juan Carlos Espinosa, met in Paris with Pauline Michelet, Director responsible for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean of Air France, with the aim of addressing issues on commercial aviation. Both sides showed interest in a meeting between representatives of COPA and Air France, to begin the process of consultation and coordination aimed at assessing the possibility that the company makes direct flights to Panama.

Star Tankers Bunkering Company, chaired by Raul Saint Malo, received a license from the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) to provide fuel barge services, while a score of companies claim to have several months waiting for a response to their requests. “If you start to implement a monopoly without competition, it reduces the possibility of creating a true Panama Maritime center” said the former secretary of the AMP, Carlos Ernesto Gonzalez De La Lastra.

The Foreign Minister, Romulo Roux, received his Canadian colleague, John Baird, to find ways to “deepen” the strong bilateral relationship, reported the Foreign Ministry. In recent years, the ties between the two countries “have acquired a significant rise in the diplomatic, commercial and cultural aspects”, and Baird’s visit “confirms the excellent bilateral relations Panama is playing with a high profile among nations, such as with G20 leaders like Canada,” Roux said in the statement.

The Canadian-owned company Minera Panama will be the first in the country to have its own immigration office. The Minister of Public Security, Jose Raul Mulino, defended the decision. The National Immigration Service (SNM) will create a special office in Minera Panama to handle in a “preferred and expeditious” way requests submitted for immigration permits of foreign workers in the name of this company. This was established by Resolution 18972 of the Ministry of Public Security that also indicates that the office will be located in a place provided by the mining company.

The National Air Service (Senan) received two of the six Italian Augusta Westland AW139 helicopters. This was confirmed by the Minister of Security, Jose Raul Mulino, according to the information in the portal Infodefensa.com. In the month of April, Panama will receive the four other helicopters of the same model. This equipment is part of the multimillion dollar contract Panama signed with the Italian company Finmeccanica.

The devaluation of the Venezuelan bolivar has affected several businesses and companies in  Panama. In the Colon Free Zone (CFZ) alone, they may stop receiving $800 million, but outside the zone businesses also feel the impact. The Panamanian airline Compañía Panameña de Aviación (Copa), will be similarly affected. According to the president of the board of the airline, Stanley Motta, the newly applied monetary measure would generate losses of about $17 million for the company in the first quarter. The Bolivar went from 4.3 to 6.3 per dollar, a loss of nearly 32%.

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