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PANAMA - Economy

Doriana Hun

President, American Chamber of Commerce Panama (AmCham Panama) & General Manager, Chevron Panama

Bio

Doriana Hun received her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Florida Institute of Technology and her MBA from the Universidad Latina de Panamá in 2001. She joined Chevron as a process engineer at the Panama Refinery in 1999 and has held different positions within the organization, including planning and pricing specialist as well as marketing manager for Colombia and Central America.

"We have concentrated our efforts on the environment, social and governance (ESG) in order to establish these criteria as the sustainable model for business growth."
Bringing together 400 member companies from over 20 industries and commercial sectors, AmCham Panama promotes bilateral trade and investment opportunities with the US.
What new opportunities are you discovering to promote trade between the US and Panama?

In terms of economic reactivation, regardless of prevailing challenges, Panama has shown positive behavior with respect to economic reactivation. I consider it particularly relevant to mention the strength of the mining sector at this time. Mining plays an important role in Panama, and expectations for the sector are high. It is set to generate around 300,000 tons in 2022, corresponding to around 3% of GDP and playing a key part in Panama’s economic reactivation. Panama has been characterized as a service economy. Indeed, the reactivation of the services sector has been robust, accounting for 70% of GDP and around 67% of national employment. Clearly, the sector will remain in sharp relief moving forward, giving Panama the international exposure it deserves given its important geographical position. Then, there is the transport sector orbiting the Panama Canal. In 2021, the Canal generated USD2 billion in income for the country, and I expect it to remain relevant for the country in terms of the economic reactivation. AmCham works closely with various government entities, the primary one being the Ministry of Commerce and Industries. It has promoted certain laws that we consider supportive of commerce between Panama and the US, such as the SEM Law, of particular relevance to multinationals, and the EMMA Law, activated in 2021. Currently, there are 181 companies operating under those laws, which form a regime for companies keen to establish themselves in Panama’s manufacturing industry. A large part of our member companies are subject to the SEM Law. These special regimes encourage investment and appeal to multinationals to locate their business centers in Panama.

What advantages do companies gain by joining AmCham?

Joining AmCham means being part of the largest business community in the region, since we are affiliated to the Association of American Chambers of Commerce of Latin America and the Caribbean, which represents over 80% of all US investment in the region. AmCham Panama promotes bilateral trade and investment opportunities between Panama and the US and gathers nearly 400 member companies belonging to over 20 industries and commercial sectors. One of our objectives, is to be a platform that brings together the government, private sector, and academia, to facilitate dialogue opportunities in order to benefit economic and sustainable growth. 12 sectoral committees provide up-to-date information on the most relevant national and international topics in the voice of top tear government authorities and key stakeholders from the private sector and institutions. To explore business opportunities, we also offer through our Trade Center a wide variety of services such as: potential contact lists, private business meetings, business agendas, and organization of trade missions between Panama and the US, among others.

What has AmCham learnt from the pandemic?

The pandemic accelerated digital transformation, which has greatly benefited the possibility of maintaining close contact with all our member companies through virtual and now hybrid meetings. Our number-one priority throughout the pandemic was ensuring we kept our members well informed and this was definitely possible with great team work and guidance from Microsoft who ensured we could adopt a new virtual work environment in record time.

What is AmCham’s key focus today?

We have concentrated our efforts on the environment, social and governance (ESG) in order to establish these criteria as the sustainable model for business growth. In alliance with Instituto de Gobierno Corporativo de Panama, we launched a governance-oriented educational campaign aiming to promote higher business standards among companies. Having innovation as a powerful strategy for company growth, our most recently launched committee, the Innovation Committee, provides member companies the opportunity to share best practices and know how to strengthen companies of all sizes and industries.

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