The Business Year

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With Panama’s strategic location in the middle of Latin America and the Caribbean and its booming industry, its trade zones offer international companies various advantages.

Eriberto Guerra

General Manager, Baru Free Trade Zone (Baru FTZ)

Companies in the FTZ are exempt from fiscal taxes. Baru also has a privileged geographical position when it comes to dealing with Asian countries. We are also neighbors with Central American countries that are clients of other FTZs in the area; however, our advantage is that we are closer. Finally, we have an ideal water depth. We do not have to perform dredging, as opposed to other places such as the Panama Canal, where USD30 million is spent on dredging annually. With our port, large vessels can come easily. The FTZ is not just a perimeter fence; it comprises all of Baru district, around 77,000sqkm. We also have the border area in Paso Canoas, where there is economic development. In the Baru Free Trade Zone law, there is also an oil FTZ. We already have people arriving in the area wanting to invest in refineries. Baru FTZ is around 21 years old, and none of the previous administrations developed such activities. We have experience and are implementing logistics activities and the movement of vessels to the West coast of the US. The Chiriquí Land Company has national lands that can be of use for the Baru FTZ.

Aida Michelle U. Maduro

General Manager, Panexport

Panexport is the first free trade zone to open its door in Panama City offering a home for all companies interested in value added production or complete manufacturing cycle. As new trades zones started developing, Panexport turned out to be the perfect place to establish small companies or companies that could grow into separate production line in various warehouses. As rental opportunities, companies are not required to invest capital in building their own facilities. Instead, all the efforts go toward developing their business into facilities ready to use. As an incubator, it provides the opportunity for new enterprises that want to participate of the global market with the same favorable conditions as multinational corporations. The FTZ has 300-1,500sqm warehouses or built to cover the needs of the end user up to 2500 sqm. Given this conditions, Panexport becomes a complementary operation to other special regimes in Panama. Panexport is strategically located in the heart of the city, just 27 minutes from Colón Free Zone and the port in the Atlantic, 15 minutes away from Balboa in the Pacific area, and 20 minutes from the airport. Companies can transport their goods wherever they want easily.

Luis Arrieta

CEO, Albrook Free Trade Zone

Albrook FTZ was the second FTZ to be set up after Panexport. Albrook has several differentiators. First, when we went to bid, we had a concession from the government. It was a blank canvas, and we could create and develop whatever we needed. We then started the process of getting clients. At that time, export processing was not that popular in the world, and no one was familiar with it. We had to work hard to find clients. Today, we hold two structures of export processing in the FTZ that are labs. We run all the chemical analyses, fuel tests, and everything else. We have three major business components. The first is chemical analysis, and this business did not stop at all. This was also the case with unloading vessels; those companies had to remain open even during COVID-19. Then, there was the logistics part of it, as we have three or four of the largest import logistics companies in Panama. Together, they bring in several thousand kilograms of air cargo a day. As a result, Albrook was never closed during the pandemic; my team and I were always working.

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