Panama Hopes to be the Great “Global Hub” in Latin America
The 2017-2018 Global Competitiveness Report, which is issued by the World Economic Forum every year, places Panama in the 37th position among the 138 evaluated economies that provide access to new technologies. Besides, it places Panama in the 53rd position of countries with innovation capacity. This fact is, no doubt, a good starting point to face the challenges Panama has in matter of digital and technological development.
The economic context foreseen for Panama in 2018 is also another element inviting to optimism and might lead to the correction of some structural issues such as the digital opening. Panama is going to be the Latin American country with the most significant increase for the next 11 months, according with a prediction made by The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL according to the Spanish acronym). Its prediction to the new economic exercise estimates that this country will grow 5.5%; while 2017 closed with 5.3%, although initially, they used to project 5.6%. However, some other analyses like the one made by the outstanding economist Adolfo Quintero defends that the country had increased a 6.3% in the already finished year.
Coinciding with the celebration of the Cybertech Latin America in Panama on February 22nd, Panamanian authorities are very interested in transforming the country into a technological hub (connections center), by taking its strategic situation as an advantage, like the fiscal ones to the companies and its development in matters like “cybertech”. It was expressed this way by the Panamanian vice-president and chancellor, Isabel de Saint Malo, last year, precisely at the first edition of the cyber technologies congress opening. “Panama wants to become a “hub” of innovation in Latin America, she added”.
In that forum, it was also defended that the Panamanian consolidation as a technological platform is a natural step to the country, as more than the 80% of the Panamanian economy is related to the services sector, cyber-technologies´main user. The celebration of “Cybertech Latin America in Panama” conference is a reaffirmation of how willing this country is to be in the top of cybernetics technologies. Cybertech shows the latest works and innovations related to the sector; it is an international dialogue about informatics threats, marketing needs and new solutions.
Panama also wants to take advantage of its commercial, logistic and aerial center condition in this region, and the synergy that the presence of the Tropical Investigations Smithsonian Institute, the Health Studies Gorgas Commemorative Institute or the Biomedicine Indicasat Laboratory in Ciudad del Saber might cause. They all have a significant demand of sophisticated technologies services.
The regional director of KIO Networks for Central America and The Caribbean, Cristian Ali, recently added to La Estrella, the Panamanian journal that “the companies must have a long term vision and a strategic plan contemplating technological innovations in order to improve themselves. This allows the updating, growing, right updates in their processes, give a better support and client assistance and to become more competitive and productive. Summing up, to improve its services, earnings and profits.” However, there might be risks, which in this case, might bring with it some serious repercussions in the productive model. Specialists insist in the reinforcement of their security systems on the cloud because attacks are becoming more sophisticated, precise and harmful than they were before.
According to the survey about The World Security of Information 2017 by PwC, a 63% of all companies run all operations on the cloud and a 62% runs security services to privacy and cybernetic safety that is why it must be included in business strategies. The position Panama has as a connections platform, because of its strategic position, aerial, commercial, logistic, financial, and maritime “hub”, and the fact that it has become one of the most increasing economies from Latin America in these last years, specially expose it to financial fraud and cyber attacks. There was a meeting with some experts in the field of security, in which they all insisted in this idea: the country has to keep on working in order to protect itself from different attacks that might affect the country.
PORT AND LOGISTIC HUB
Besides the aspiration the country has of being a “cybernetic technologies hub”, the country also wants to maintain its advantage, geopolitically speaking, in order to develop some other projects with a global reaching, such as the port and logistic hub. Among all countries in Latin America, Panama owns the 2nd place in port logistics, and it is within the top five countries all over the world, mainly because of the huge investment they have made in the infrastructure field both public and private, the good economic shape and a very safe scene for business.
Ana Reyes, head of the Logistic Office, claimed during the X Forum of Competitiveness in Mexico City last September that ”The Panama Canal and its expansion has been a key impulse to the development of the port and maritime hub, which is an important point within the linguistic sector”. Statistics are eloquent: since its inauguration on June 26th, 2016, more than 1.500 ships have passed through. It has been predicted that more than 400 million tons, a record number, that might bring to the Panamanian government 1.600 million dollars. According to the calculations, The Authority from The Panama Canal (ACP according to the Spanish acronym) hopes to deposit 3.037 million dollars, providing 1.659 million to the National Treasure.
The conception of the Logistic Hub in Panama must be done from planning and executing a supportive and inclusive project with Latin America, consolidating the country and being in agreement with the regional scale. It should not be a competition, but a supporting point to achieve global success. That is how The Latin America Development Bankunderstands it, after running an analysis about the logistic situation in Panama. Fausto Arroyo Crejo, expert in Analysis and Sectorial Programming CAF, thinks that “the expansion Project of the canal is a chance to get some better logistic costs that will immediately move to the whole region; which are a chance for everyone´s competitiveness; and logistic costs competitiveness is directly related to the economic development.
Panama is also thinking about the possibility of creating a “pharmacist hub”, taking as advantages of its logistic platform; to do so, they would have as an allied the Organization of United Nations to the Industrial Development (ONUNDI, according to the Spanish acronym). This project was recently treated by the Foreign Trade Minister and Vice-President, Isabel De Saint Malo, and also by the Director of ONUNDI, Li Young. They both talked about “the chance of creating a strategic association program to make the logistic platform stronger” building on the creation of an “industrial pharmacist hub”, according to the official information. “ONUNDI counts on experience supporting the creation of pharmacist hubs in countries in Asia and Africa”, the Panamanian Council added. On the other hand the country has the aspiration of growing as the Hub in the Latin American region if everything goes well with the conversations The Authority of Tourism in Panama (ATP) had started with two European companies that are interested in maintaining connections with Panama. The International Airport of Tocumen has become an intercontinental first class terminal. About 5,900 flights arrive every week, and they also make connections to 34 countries in America and Europe, with an efficient work that guarantees passengers transportation in less than 45 minutes, one of the lowest marks in the world, according to the airport.
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