Panama and the UAE: United by strategic locations, logistics expertise and a commitment to humanity

Countries have also been working to increase political and economic cooperation
By Eduardo Fonseca Ward
Sun 25 Feb 2018 03:46 PM

Panama and the UAE are both strategically situated as central hubs of their respective regions, and service world trade and cultural connectivity.

Both countries enjoy a stellar relationship, which has been cemented by the mutual opening of embassies in 2017. In true testament of the UAE’s regional role, we have also established our regional office for seafarers documentation as well as the regional technical office for merchant marine services.

Our countries have also been working to increase political and economic cooperation. Plenty of Panama-based investors and traders are exploring opportunities to expand their businesses and use the UAE as regional headquarters. Likewise, Panama has been creating various opportunities for companies in the UAE in sectors such as fintech, financial services, real estate, data, free zones, port infrastructure, logistics, dry docks and infrastructure projects.

Attracted by political stability, security, the US dollar as a national currency and a territorial tax system, a growing list of multinational companies with offices in the UAE have used Panama as a hub to serve the 600 million-plus potential customers in Latin America. Panama is also actively looking to attract telecom and data companies to take advantage of seven major fibre optic cables that connect through Panama.

At the Global Business Forum on Latin America, Panama and the Dubai Chamber will host a special “Panama Invest 2018” session, with speeches from the President of the Republic of Panama, Minister of Commerce and Industries, and the Minister of Economy and Finance.


The upgrade of Tocumen International Airport is expected to be completed this year and, in conjunction with the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2016, will further enhance Panama’s infrastructure. Around five percent of world trade passes through the Panama Canal, feeding the two busiest ports in the region and the second largest free-trade zone in the world.

Tocumen is the regional hub for several commercial and cargo airlines and connects passengers and moves cargo to more than 34 countries and 90 global destinations. It has enjoyed 5.93 percent growth in passenger traffic last year, which represents 874,128 more passengers than in 2016. Given the expectation of growth in the aviation industry in Panama, the number of users that could move between the two terminals will be 25 million passengers per year by 2025. A third expansion of the airport is already being planned in order to increase that estimate.

Setting the pace

Panama’s economy has been the fastest growing in the American continent over the last two decades and is expected to remain among the most dynamic in the region, with stable and low inflation, sustainable public debt, a declining current account deficit, and a stable financial sector.

Panama is a highly competitive regional financial and banking centre with investment-grade sovereign debt and real lending rates amongst the lowest in Latin America. It ranks highly in the world in terms of financial development and ease of access to credit, all while using the US dollar as the national currency.

A new index from the World Economic Forum has ranked Panama sixth most inclusive emerging economy and first among Latin America countries. The social development, advances in education and 4.5 percent unemployment create social stability that significantly lowers the risk for long-term capital investments.

But it is not just economics and politics that tie the two nations together. They also have a strong desire for humanitarian development. An example is the establishment of the International Humanitarian City founded in 2003 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and Panama’s plan to open the “Centro Logistico Regional de Asistencia Humanitaria” (CLRAH) this year.

Panama is the bridge between modernity and antiquity and continues to serve its historical role as a land of opportunity and a bridge between regions and cultures.

Eduardo Fonseca Ward, Ambassador of the Republic of Panama to the UAE

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