Free Zone growth on the upswing
PANAMA. The Colon Free Zone not only continues to grow in commercial terms, but in two years time will also have doubled the 400 hectare...
PANAMA. The Colon Free Zone not only continues to grow in commercial terms, but in two years time will also have doubled the 400 hectares that it occupied in 2004.
In recent years 2,724 entrepreneurs that operate in the biggest free zone of the west coast have invested around $600 million in the expansion and construction of new infrastructure.
The government added an additional $15 million to assist the free zone’s development. The results of this investment can be seen everywhere, and they attract thousands of tourists.
During the first six months of the year the zone saw an increase of business activity of 8.2 percent over the same period in 2007.
Colombia, however, has put a damper on the good news by imposing restrictions on the products bought there, which has meant a loss of $400 million.
The commercial movement during the six first months of 2008 was $7.9 billion ($3.7 billion in imports and $4.2 billion for re-exports).
The current goal is to continue with the physical expansion, which will see an additional 225 hectares incorporated to the zone.
There is a lot of competition for space, to such an extent that a lake that was within the free zone property has to be filled to open 20 new exhibition rooms, said free zone planning director, Raul Moreira.
In the race to provide space, the government transferred 25 hectares located in the former Fort Davis.
Another 200 hectares formerly part of the Multimode Entrepreneurial and Services Center (Centro Empresarial Multimodal y de Servicios) CEMIS, were also transferred to the Colon Free Zone.
Moreira said that the plots would be awarded through an international auction that will take place before the current government administration ends.
The free zone is flanked by three containers ports. It continues to be the principal source of employment for the province of Colon with 27,000 workers on the payrolls.