Week in Review November 17

Colón is on the up

In his speech on the occasion of the “National Holidays” in the city of Colón, President Juan Carlos Varela listed the projects that are being carried out to renovate this town on the Atlantic coast and the province in general. Currently, the Government has invested more than one billion dollars in Colón, distributed in 48 projects, not including the construction of the Port-Shipping hub of this city. Varela announced that the buildings of the Electoral Tribunal, the National Lottery and the Provincial Government are in their final phase and will soon be inaugurated.

Not good enough

Panama did not satisfactorily pass the assessment made by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Tax Information of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD), but the agency acknowledged that Panama has taken steps in the right direction since December 2015. The measures taken by Panama are intended to overcome the deficiencies encountered at that time. The report, released in Georgia, included an assessment of Phase II, which aimed at measuring the country’s capacity to comply with exchange of tax information.

Third bridge over the Canal ready in 2018

For the Gatun Lake and Costa Abajo inhabitants, in the Colón province, it is a nightmare to come and go from their homes, but this torment will soon come to an end when the third bridge over the canal opens in 2018. This project has an approximate cost of $379 million. Mario Montemayor, one of engineers who is working on the bridge, said that works presents an advance of more than 50%. The structure measures 4.6 kilometers long and 75 meters high. The bridge’s useful life will be around 100 years.

Protecting Panamanian interests

The Minister of Commerce and Industries, Augusto Arosemena Moreno, stated that all options will be analyzed in order to protect the commercial interests of the country. On November 2, Colombia issued two decrees that deepened the differences with Panama. Using the arguments that Colombia needed to strengthen customs control against smuggling and under-invoicing,that South American country imposed measures that in practice extend the use of tariffs classified as “illegal” by the World Trade Organization.

Customs Tribunal a real necessity

The National Center for Competitiveness (CNC) reiterates the need to create a Customs Tribunal, especially now that Panama is in the middle of a dispute with Colombia over tariffs imposed by that country on textile and leather goods from the Colón Free Zone. In that court, cases related to the interpretation of foreign trade rules for goods, including tariffs, would be settled. The CNC states that the institutionality of the Tariff Commission of the Ministry of Economy and Finance must also be strengthened, with regulations in line with current commercial dynamics.

The man from Del Monte in Baru

Negotiations between the Executive and the US company Del Monte to revive banana production in Barú, Chiriquí, are about to conclude. This was reported by the Minister of the Presidency, Álvaro Alemán. A stumbling block emerged in the negotiations. The Constitution prohibits the acquisition of land near the border by foreigners. The solution has been that the government will rent the land to the former banana workers, and then they will sublease it to the company.

High alert

The market is alert and in some cases has shown opposition to the changes and new requirements that debt issuers in Panama will have to meet. Through a new agreement, the Securities Market Superintendence of (SMV) has proposed changing the requirements that the companies involved in these types of operations must comply with. The first stage of public consultations has already closed amidst a number discussions and suggestions.

Social assistance and personal services expenses?

The Cabinet Council approved an extraordinary additional credit to the Presidency in the amount of $5.9 million for ‘social assistance’. It also approved a $1.4 million Migration credit to cover ‘personal services’. The list of expenses were detailed in Resolution No. 145 of November 1, 2016, published in the Official Gazette. The decree establishes that the extraordinary credit of the Presidency is to finance programs of social assistance and the development of activities concerning the security of the State.

Mutual cooperation

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) and the Port Authority of Busan in South Korea signed a Mutual Understanding Agreement to establish a cooperation alliance between the two entities, an official source said. The agreement was signed by representatives of both institutions in the presence of the Panamanian ambassador to South Korea, Rubén Arosemena.

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