IMF: extension of the Panama Canal help keep its growth rate


In its annual review of the Panamanian economy, known as Article IV, the Fund noted that Panama’s growth slowed in 2014 to stand at 6.2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The International Monetary Fund said yesterday that the Canal expansion and entry into operation of the new copper mine in Panama will allow the Central American country to maintain the current growth rate of between 6% and 7% in the coming years.

In its annual review of the Panamanian economy, the Fund said Panama’s growth slowed in 2014 to stand at 6.2% of real GDP. Indeed, the international financial organization attributed this slowdown to «delays in the expansion of the Canal» and a slower pace of public investment and weak activity in the Colon Free Zone, the first container center in Latin America.

After overcoming many obstacles during its construction, it is expected to expanded via the Panama Canal to begin operations the first week of April next year.

The enlargement of the Interoceanic, by the consortium Groups Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), led by Spanish company Sacyr, is one of the most important engineering works in modern history, and began in 2007 with a total investment of route 5,250 million. Currently, 6% of world trade passes through the Panama Canal.

The other major project which, according to the IMF, should help maintain the current pace of annual growth in Panama is betting Cobre Panama mining, which will be operational during the first quarter of 2018 and allow to extract 320,000 tons of copper annually for 34 years .

Mine and port area

Located in the town of Punta Rincon, in the Caribbean province of Colon, 120 kilometers west of Panama City, the project includes a mine and a plant where the ore is extracted and processed into concentrates, and a port area where it will seep concentrated and loaded on ships for transport.

On the other hand, the IMF also indicated that inflation in Panama is «moderated» to 2.6% in 2014 as a result of low oil prices and price controls on certain food products.

The Fund calculated an increase in inflation of around 1% by 2015, by providing a «slow growth» of oil prices and the end of controls on food prices in July.

The financial institution also forecast a budget deficit for 2015 of 3.8% based on 1996 GDP, five tenths lower than in 2014, and said the Panamanian debt is «sustainable».


Ernesto Chong de León, Ernesto Emilio Chong Coronado