maersk ship, panama canal, port of balboa

Maersk Ship docked at Port of Balboa in Panama Canal

Bienvenidos! Miami industrialists are now preparing for the expansion of the Panama Canal. From this year until 2014, we are living in the era that can best be described as “Pre-Post Panamax”. Hopefully, some of the stories, contacts and website links below will be of beneficial resources for your present and future business interests in Panama.

In June, I departed with thirty other delegates on the Miami-Dade County trade mission to Panama. The mission was orchestrated by the county’s Office of Economic Development (OEDIT) and Enterprise Florida. The delegates included directors from the Port of Miami, Miami International Airport and Miami Dade County as well as manufacturers, distributors, freight forwarders, logistics, importers and exporters. The purpose was to explore business opportunities and relationships as well as witness the Panama Canal expansion.

miami dade county panama canal

Miami-Dade County delegates tour Panama Canal expansion at Miraflores Locks

Miami entrepreneurs and government officials are positioning themselves to take advantage of the Panama Canal expansion. Both Miami and Panama are making significant investments in their infrastructure and transportation hubs including seaports, airports, railroad and foreign trade zones. According to a Panamanian economist that I met with, Panama does not have an overburdening debt and taxation like the USA does. So what else makes Panama so appealing to Miami businessmen? Some have the perspective that Panama is the logistics hub for the Americas. The direct air flights, canal, seaports and foreign trade zones are very significant factors that other countries do not possess. If Miami and the state of Florida do not capitalize on Panama, others will. For example, private oil companies are investing to dredge the Port of Houston to 50’ deep to accept Post Panamax ships thus making it one of several USA ports on the east coast to do so.

If you are considering the expansion of your global operations in Latin America, then Panama may be a great choice. The economy is based on the US Dollar and they have a long history of dealing with Americans and made in the USA products already. It is also important to note that Panama has over eighty direct flights into Tocumen International Airport >>> In addition, there are direct, three-hours flights between Panama and Miami with Copa Airlines >>> Overall, we found that the Panamanian business people are very ambitious. It is not uncommon for a Panamanian to work more than five days a week while the average American seems to work less than five days. The country is politically and economically stable; pro business; advocates international free trade; and is generally friendly towards Americans. On our second day there, we visited with the chamber of commerce in Panama >>> Their members are patiently awaiting the passage of the Foreign Trade Agreement between Panama and the USA. In addition, the country of Colombia, their neighbor to the south, is also expecting similar legislation to pass simultaneously very soon. What better way for the USA to create employment opportunities and free trade routes for all countries involved than to finalize these FTA’s with two of our best amigos in Latin America.

miami panama chamber commerce

Miami-Dade County delegates meet with Panama chamber of commerce

Several of the delegates already have business operations in both Miami and Panama so it was very interesting to understand the country from their perspectives as well. It was especially exciting to learn about Panama’s commitment to several targeted industries including food production and agriculture; the transportation of such foods via the supply chain logistics and ultimately the exporting of such foods, produce, vegetables, fruits, coffee, seafood, meats, flowers and other perishables. One company, named Galores, is already leading the logistics industry in Panama with the construction of their state-of-the-art refrigerated, cold storage facility. Checkout their website at Galores Cold Storage Warehouse >>>

For a very helpful website on learning more about news, trends, real estate and investment opportunities in Panama, visit Sr. Tom Brymer at Panama Advisory International Group >>>

Here is a short video on a summary of Panama: YouTube: Panama, where the world meets (Panama Canal) >>>

If you may be considering operating your logistics, freight forwarding, importing and/or exporting business in both Miami and Panama warehouses, then here are a few events in Panama in case  you may want to time your next visit there: Expo Logistics Panama (visit www.expologistica.org ) in September of this year 2011 and Expocomer (visit www.expocomer.com ) in March 2012.

If you are interested in doing business within Panama, then I encourage you to first communicate with the US Department of Commerce in Panama; so be sure to visit www.export.gov/panama

Please feel free to continue reading on to Part II which describes my individual excursions to Zona Libre (free zone) in Colon, Panama Pacifico and the Panama Canal >>>

4 Comments

  1. Ed, this is a great post! Love the story and pictures! Anyone interested in Miami industrial real estate services should definitely contact an expert like you who.

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