TBY talks to Juan Bulnes, President, APEX, on the sector.

Juan Bulnes

What can the country do to develop the “Made in Panama” brand, and how can it add value to its existing products?

We are facing some problems. Our workforce is more expensive compared to neighboring countries and public services prices are higher as well. We are also a dollarized economy and the currency is strong. This is a factor that needs to be taken into consideration when we produce and export, because neighboring countries use weaker currencies. The secret is to boost the productivity of the products we are strong in and then enter the international market. We need our entrepreneurs to start working on the concept of productivity. A total of 66% of exports to the international market are represented by the agro-industrial and fishing industries. We also have a great share of dairy products, milk, and milk sub products, which represent 33%. We seek to boost the agro-industrial segment; that is our priority. We hand out awards to producers of bananas, honey, and all products related to this industry. It is also important to add value to our production.