Panama Industry

Industrial operations are concentrated in the area along the canal and, not least, the free trade zone Colón on the Atlantic. In Colón, production takes place almost exclusively under the auspices of foreign companies. Otherwise, there is mainly lighter industry in private ownership.

Processing of agricultural products and other food industries dominates. Manufacture of clothing, chemical products, household and stationery and building materials also occurs. The industry is mainly focused on the domestic market.

Just under one fifth of the labor force is employed in the sector.

  • COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Panama. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.




Chief judge is turned off

The Supreme Court chief judge, Alejandro Moncada Luna, is suspended from his job when he is investigated by Congress for suspicions of illegally raising money.


Varela takes over as president

July 1st

Juan Carlos Varela takes over as president.


Strike leads to pay rise

Two weeks’ strike ends among construction workers demanding higher wages. They reach a deal that gives workers on major projects, such as the canal, 11 percent higher salary this year and further increases over the next three years.

Varela wins the presidential election

May 4th

In the presidential election, the candidate of the Panamist Party, the incumbent Vice President Juan Carlos Varela, wins. The victory is unexpected, Varela has been in third place in the majority of opinion polls. He gets 39 percent of the vote, against 31 percent for CD’s José Domingo Arias and 28 percent for PRD’s Juan Carlos Navarro (and some independent candidates share the rest). In the contemporary parliamentary elections, the CD gets the largest with 30 seats, while the PRD gets 25, the Panamist Party 12 and three small parties share the other 4 seats.


The subway will be opened

The first line of Panama City’s subway is inaugurated, a month before the election. It is considered to strengthen the position of the ruling party CD’s José Domingo Arias, as the metro building is one of the Martinelli government’s flagship projects.


The end date is set for the channel construction

The Canal Authority and GUPC reach a settlement on the construction project which it is hoped will mean that it can be completed by the end of 2015 (see also January 2014).

Diplomatic conflict with Venezuela

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announces that he is breaking diplomatic relations with Panama and freezing all trade exchanges. It is a reaction that Panama has requested an OAS meeting to discuss the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, with widespread protests against commodity shortages, galloping inflation and high crime rates. The next day, Panama’s ambassador and three other diplomats are declared “persona non grata”. They are given two days to leave the country. Maduro calls Martinelli the “United States lackey” and accuses him of trying to overthrow the Venezuelan government. Venezuela’s foreign minister is said to have suspended negotiations for over $ 1 billion in outstanding debt to Panamanian exporting companies.


Martinelli’s wife becomes CD’s vice president

President Ricardo Martinelli’s wife Marta Linares gets ready as vice presidential candidate along with presidential candidate José Domingo Arias.

The Foreign Minister resigns

Foreign Minister Fernando Núñez Fábrega resigns, officially for personal reasons. However, he is considered to have made rash statements as well as handled a diplomatic crisis with Ecuador clientele. Replacement Francisco Álvarez De Soto becomes the fifth foreign minister since Vice President Varela was forced to leave the post in August 2011.


Crew members are released

The authorities are ordering to release 32 crew members from the seized North Korean vessel (see July 2013). The captain and two other crew members remain in custody, suspected of weapons smuggling. The shipowner has agreed to pay $ 670,000 to get the ship back.

Crisis in channel building

The Spanish-led consortium, Grupos Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), which is leading the expansion of the canal threatens to stop work within three weeks unless more money is paid. The channel authority, on the other hand, argues that the increased costs should be considered normal within the construction project. President Martinelli threatens to turn to the governments of Spain and Italy to demand that they take responsibility for the situation. Spain’s Minister of Infrastructure Ana Pastor travels to Panama to discuss the channel building crisis with President Martinelli. The deadline that has been set passes without GUPC putting in the work on the channel. But the threat persists; GUPC requires an additional $ 1.6 billion for “unforeseen expenses”, in addition to the $ 3.2 billion covered by the consortium’s contract.

Panama Industry

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