Doing Business in Panama

Economic Outlook 

Panama´s GDP grew 10.7% in 2012, an increase of 0.1 % compared to 2011 (10.6%). This upsurge in the economy was driven mainly by intensification in international trade flows as well as public sector expenditure.



In 2012 Panama’s GDP breakdown by economic sector was 3.8 % Agriculture, 16.8% Industry, 14% manufacturing, and 79.6 % services.  In 2012, Foreign Direct Investment in Panama reached its highest level in history with a total investment of $3.02 billion.  Opportunities for investment continue to be in the logistics, tourism, agriculture, financial services, and science & technology industries.

Panama’s government is investing heavily in infrastructure development, generating jobs and stimulating economic growth on a path towards sustainable development.  The main infrastructure projects which keep the economy active are:

  • The $5.2 billion Panama Canal Expansion Program

  • The country’s first subway system: Metro Line

  • The National Road & Highway Network Improvement Initiative

  • The Airport Logistic Network Expansion Program

  • The Colon Free Zone Expansion Program

  • Expansion of Special Economic Areas: Panama Pacifico and City of Knowledge.

Strong  economic growth, infrastructure enhancement projects, and lenient foreign direct investment laws are the main reasons why multinational companies such as Caterpillar, Procter & Gamble, Dell,  and Hewlett-Packard, have come to Panama to set up their regional headquarters and training and distribution centers.  In addition, the ease of travel to and from Panama, the well-developed communications, banking, and hospitality sectors and the availability of goods and services in general make Panama an ideal business platform for multinational corporations.

The U.S.- Panama Free Trade Agreement (FTA) offers both countries countless opportunities.  The agreement will ensure fair and equal treatment in business transactions, put into force dispute settlement norms, and will also lower import duties for US goods entering Panama.


Links of interest related to the Panama Commercial Guide:

Doing Business in Panama Overview

Investment Climate in Panama (there are some cautionary notes here!)  

Colon Free Trade Zone – using it as a regional base to sell through Panama to Latin America

What the Press is Saying About Panama for Business

Services that U.S. Embassy’s Commercial Service offers to U.S. companies