TBY TALKS TO ÁLVARO ALEMÁN

Panama, May 14, 2015—TBY is currently working on the second yearly publication focused on Panama.

Álvaro Alemán, Minister of the Presidency, recently held a meeting with TBY to discuss the main highlights achieved by the government, and its targets for the 2015-2019 strategic plan.

During the interview, the Minister underlined the importance of the recent Summit of the Americas for Panama. The Panamanian government successfully hosted the seventh Summit of the Americas on April 10-11, welcoming more than 30delegations of heads of state and governments from across the Americas.

The event underlined Panama's role in the American continent. Álvaro Alemán told TBY, “we have been able to position Panama as a mediator, as a country that tends to help and resolve disputes. Unfortunately, we had moved away from that position in the past few years of the previous government, and now we have regained a position whereby we maintain good relations both with the US and with the leading countries in the region; we have good relations with the countries that form the Alliance of the Pacific, we enjoy good relations with the Caribbean countries, and we have regained a strong foreign policy position as a country that allows us to act as a problem solver in the hemisphere, and must recognize in this connection the leadership of President Varela and the Vice-President and Foreign Minister Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado. Establishing dialogue is fundamental, and a part of the government's new vision."

The Summit of the Americas focused not only on economic trends, but also on social priorities. Despite the rapid economic development enjoyed by the countries of the region, it is clear that wealth is not equally distributed among all citizens. Within the continent, we can still find families living in poverty and extreme poverty; there are health and education deficiencies, and we face great security challenges as well as an increase in organized crime all over the hemisphere. There are some pending tasks regarding equity and integration in the region, as well as environmental, energy, and migration issues.

Also during the interview, Alemán stressed the importance of social reforms for Varela's government; “We are a country of low unemployment and inflation, and have projected growth of more than 6%.

I am confident that we will exceed this level, because one of our main objectives is to reduce the rate of poverty, which has dropped significantly, today standing at about 23-24% of the population. Extreme poverty is now down to about 10% of the population. We want to reduce it even further, and feel that if we continue to experience high economic growth and receive foreign investment, we will be able to create the conditions necessary to allow people to step out of poverty and enter the middle class. Part of our goal is to improve education and social programs for people in the lower tier of economic society."

The creation of a transparent business environment is one of the main premises for any country to attract and boost FDI; in that regard, the Minister commented: There are more than 100 multinationals active today in Panama with regional headquarters in the capital. We are promoting a new law to increase the number of international companies in Panama, and are in discussions with the Colón Free Zone to enhance their logistics capacity and offer a free zone to investors in Panama. It is important to note that we are actively combatting corruption and actively promoting the rule of law, because the first requirement a country has in order to attract foreign investment is the rule of law… we are now aware that our country must have a strong rule of law in order to attract foreign investment."

The complete interview with Álvaro Alemán will be featured in The Business Year: Panama 2015.

The Business Year (TBY) is a leading provider of business information and a publisher of annual trade and investment resources. TBY meets with the world's top political, commercial, and industrial leaders to deliver targeted information, in-depth analysis, and strategic advice to the global business community on economic trends and investment opportunities.