PANAMA CITY – The Panamanian Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (CCIAP) and the Spanish Federation of Business Organizations (CEOE) signed an agreement Wednesday that opens the way for the groups to explore new business opportunities in such areas as construction, tourism and renewable energy.
“Spanish businesses already have important investments” in Panama “of nearly $2 billion, but we think there’s more work to do, and the agreement we signed will allow us to achieve these goals and get much more investment,” CCIAP president Inocencio Galindo said in a press conference.
Joaquin Gay de Montella, the CEOE vice president who led the delegation, said Panama was “a very powerful country that has possibly turned into the world’s most important logistics node,” thanks to the Panama Canal, whose expansion was mostly completed by an international consortium led by Spain’s Sacyr.
Panama offers potential investors three “very attractive” factors: political stability, economic dynamism and an “excellent” business climate, Gay de Montella said.
Nearly 300 Spanish companies currently operate in Panama, Gay de Montella said, adding that this number “is good but should be much higher.”
Spanish companies have operated in the Central American country for decades, focusing mainly on construction, according to Gay de Montella, who said there was interest in bolstering the presence in areas in which Spain “is very strong,” such as renewable energy, engineering, tourism, water treatment and wastewater processing.
Panama’s economic growth has slowed, but it is still one of the engines of the regional economy.
In 2016, Panama’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 4.9 percent, a drop from the 5.8 percent growth registered the previous year.
Panama is the destination for nearly 50 percent of the foreign direct investment (FDI) in Central America.
Last year, Panama received more than $5.2 billion in FDI, a figure that was up 15.9 percent from 2015, the government said.