PANAMA - Green Economy
CEO, Inter-American Corporation for Infrastructure Finance (CIFI)
César Cañedo-Argüelles holds more than 30 years of experience in infrastructure, investment banking, and emerging markets. Currently, he is the president of the Credit Committee at CIFI and a member of the board at CIFI Asset Management. He studied business administration major in finance at St Louis University and a holds a master’s degree in finance.
Panama plays an important role in CIFI´s strategy because of its geographic location, connectivity, dollarized economy, development of the capital markets, opportunities for projects and its social stability. Today Panama is the second-largest exposure in our portfolio. Before we established our headquarters in Panama in 2015, it was not that significant. Besides Panama, we have a good exposure to other countries such as Chile, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia. Having said that, CIFI means diversification in the region, not only in terms of countries but also sectors. That is something that we seek: having a diversified portfolio of countries and projects, but 80% of the team is based and operates from Panama. As of now, we are exposed in Panama to the energy sector, education, logistics, and tourism. Panama is also an attractive country to invest. When a company wants to export something, logistics are key to being competitive, and Panama has all that. Panama has the potential to increase investments in export related sectors and activities because its competitive advantage over other peers.
We are an active voice and pioneers in sustainable projects. CIFI was the first company to issue a green bond in Panama, and that was extremely successful. There was great interest from the market, and we were able to allocate that money to projects. Green bonds are a mechanism to fund projects that have positive environmental and/or climate benefits. The second contribution is a sustainable infrastructure debt fund that we are raising and offering to the market. It is being offered to investors willing to allocate money to projects aligned with the UN’s SDGs and the Paris Agreement. That includes sectors such as energy efficiency, waste management, transport electrification, education, and health. We are currently offering the fund to the market. Panama is the regional hub of the capital markets for Central America, and it could play a leading role in offering this type of products to the investors like CIFI’s green bond, the sustainable debt fund. Panama has that potential, being a green hub for the region.