Inversiones 3000 is developing the logistics center of Dos Caminos in Panama. What is the current status of this project?
At the moment, we are over 50% of the first construction phase, which will be completed by the end of 2014. We are located at a strategic point near Tocumen International Airport, the main airport in Panama City, which has both touristic and cargo facilities. This area is already undergoing significant development, like the airport expansion, new highways, and expansion of the city to the east side. Dos Caminos means “Two Ways." We chose this name because we are in the middle of the crossroads between the Corredor Norte and Corredor Sur, the two main highways in Panama, and this is a perfect location for any type of business, not only for the local market, but also for the connection to international markets. The extension of Corredor Norte will be finished by the end of 2014, meaning that we will be at the central point for all logistics. From here, you can go to Colón Free Trade Zone and Balboa Port, and we are only 2 kilometers away from the main cargo airport. Besides the location, we are providing our customers with other features in this new logistics center, such as wider streets so they can move and work more comfortably, and galvanized polyurethane panels in all warehouses, which improves the temperature inside the working area.
Tocumen International Airport is going to increase its ability to handle passengers from 5 million to 20 million. What is going to be the impact of this expansion on your project?
The passengers airport expansion will indirectly benefit, because it will bring more tourists to see this great country, and the smart ones will see all the opportunities that it has to offer and probably invest here, causing the country to keep growing its economy and industries. This means that more people will require warehouse spaces to house their operations. The expansion is also focused on the cargo section of the airport, so it will generate growth in all the businesses in this area, mainly for export or for processing. This will be the same case for the Panama Canal expansion. If you have a business from both air cargo and maritime cargo, you will be able to handle it perfectly from here. We are just in the middle of everything, because we are close to the airport and we are able to reach Balboa Port in 20 minutes.
There was a growth of 29% in the construction sector over 2013. Is Panama likely to see a construction bubble in the medium term?
This growth is due to the Panama Canal expansion, and the huge infrastructure projects that the government is developing around it. There is a growing middle class that generates local demand. Also, there are a lot of people coming to Panama. Not only are they investing, but, also they coming live and setting up companies in the country, which obviously creates more demand. Typically, people who come to Panama have a good economic standing. They have money to invest, rent a good apartment, start a business, and recirculate their money into the economy.
What is your outlook for the challenges that this sector is going to face in the coming years?
There are some laws that protect local workers from foreign labor, which is not good for Panama, because it leaves limited room for acquiring new knowledge and competing with others for improvement, especially in the construction sector. Local workers know that if they get fired, they can easily find work elsewhere, because there is a lot of demand for them. You need some competition in a country to evolve.