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PANAMA - Agriculture

Carlos Augusto Salccedo Zaldívar

Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs, Panama

Bio

Carlos Augusto Salcedo Zaldívar is Minister Counselor for Agricultural
Affairs. Agricultural Engineer with specialization in Irrigation from the University of Rehovot, Israel; and Postgraduate in Agricultural Extension, Use of Irrigation and Fertilizers. Poultry farmer for more than 20 years; pioneer in the implementation of environmental technological innovation and Cleaner Production (CP) awarded by the Central American Commission for Environment and Development (CCDA). He has held several governmental positions in Agriculture and Social Development since 1976.

"Panama has land, water, technology and other resources that allow regionalization of investment, allowing the country to retain a greater proportion of the workforce in the countryside and avoid urban migration."
TBY talks to Carlos Augusto Salccedo Zaldívar, Minister Counselor for Agricultural Affairs, about building a robust economy, agrifood, and attracting foreign capital.
What makes Panama a global trade center and how does the Food Hub align with its development?

Panama allows intercommunication for global trade in different aspects and with many strengths. From a geographical point of view, the canal and its infrastructure allow connecting both oceans and moving cargo in eight hours. Our economy uses the dollar, legal tender, and we have a robust banking system. There are several other elements that allow Panama to promote itself as a country with a global trade service. The establishment of the food hub was the result of global developments prior to, during and after COVID-19. Food supply (Food Hub) plays a key role in a country’s potential, especially if it can supply its population and export with added value. This is the reality that we have to implement for local development. A food center can store products from other latitudes and generate exports through intercommunication facilities. Certainly, the current canal infrastructure is designed for global trade. We need to develop our national production to export to international markets.

How is the agricultural sector of Panama positioned for growth and how has this development impacted the participation of the government through policies such as the State Agrifood Policy?

Panama is not just the canal. There is also growing agricultural activity. It has land, water, technology and other resources that allow regionalization of investment, allowing the country to retain a greater proportion of the workforce in the countryside and avoid urban migration. Agriculture promotes greater well-being among the population, in addition, the multiplier effect of each dollar invested in agriculture is 1 to 14, which is significantly higher compared to other sectors of the economy. The government together with the producers needs to boost the sector and make it stronger. His Excellency President Laurentino Cortizo has identified the need to create national agricultural policies that allow the agricultural sector to invest in the medium and long term. This will form the legal basis that identifies the need to strengthen new strategies in aspects such as technology, markets and comprehensive education. For example, Law 352 of January 18, 2023, “Which establishes the State Agri-Food Policy and dictates other provisions” had an impact throughout the country. The producers and several international entities, including the Development Bank for Latin America, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, the Spanish Cooperation Agency, the Embassy of Israel and Mashav, contributed with their resources and experience. There has been great synergy in the sector in the last two years. We have state policies for agriculture, the Canal and the banking sector. We have to inspire greater confidence in the sector.

What significant initiatives, such as the investment platform and the special economic zone, are underway in Panama to attract capital?

Another great project that our Firm is working on is the investment platform to attract capital from companies with a predefined market, technology or identified resource. Law 196 of 2023, “Which creates the special regime for the establishment of Agropark operating and developing companies and dictates provisions for their operation,” allows this investment platform within Agroparks. It has been a slow process, and Panama has been working hard to promote it within the country. We put a lot of effort into creating a port of producers. We created a Special Economic Area and Multipurpose Port Terminal. Located in the heart of Panama, Aguadulce, with an area of ​​1,758 hectares that will become a logistics zone for development companies. It will allow the development of a port that can arrive Panamax, Post Panamax, Cruises, RORO, ROPAX, bulk carriers, and oil tankers. This project is now in its final phases, and the Aguadulce special economic zone will be a contact point and investment point for all companies seeking to take advantage of the potential. It will be developed through a special economic area. All investments will be private, and the State will only facilitate laws, tax incentives, space and concessions. The development company, with an estimated investment of USD2 billion, will repay its investment and leave development infrastructure and investment attractions. The Aguadulce Special Economic Area has the tax benefits of theHeadquarters of a Multinational Company under Law 41 of August 24, 2007, Multinational Company for the Presentation of Services related to Manufacturing under Law 159 of August 31, 2020; and the Agropark Operating and Development Company law, Law 196 of February 8, 2021. It will allow companies to establish and receive these tax benefits. This fiscal sacrifice will have a multiplier effect, generating public employment and well-being. It will also further stimulate green tourism, blue tourism, local trade and logistics. The port will encourage greater exchange between two oceans.

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