Temas Especiales

29 de Jun de 2022

Nacional

Wine critics are full of... Shiraz

I don’t trust wine critics. They trade on snobbery and overblown adjectives to impress the ‘hoi-paloi’. Super 99 or Riba’s $8 vintages a...

I don’t trust wine critics. They trade on snobbery and overblown adjectives to impress the ‘hoi-paloi’. Super 99 or Riba’s $8 vintages are the best for me; they’re cheap plentiful, and have a kick. Recently, well-known wine-taster Robert Parker decreed that this year’s French grape harvest would be exceptional for taste and quality. No sooner did he make this prediction that wine futures for French Bordeaux soared. Few people remember that earlier, most of the wine cognoscenti said this year’s crop would taste yucky because of bad weather.

So who’s right? No one. Motta’s wine experts tell me that good, tasty wines aren’t always the most expensive ones. In fact, there is little relationship between price and quality for the wines most people drink.

Cheap wines. My rule of thumb: shop in the $7-10 range among the Australian reds, California/Washington State reds and whites. Stay away from the annual Beaujolais Nouveau brands imported from France every October and accompanied by a huge publicity campaign. They are a ‘sizzle, without the steak’, cost about double what they should, and taste like watered-down grape juice. TIP: better-tasting and cheaper Nouveaus are sold by Italian vintners and a good French Gamay will cost less and taste just as good.

Some Panamanian supermarkets sell $3-5 wine imported from Spain. Are they bargains? I don’t think so. If you do find a $3 supermarket wine, that knocks your socks off; check your socks.

Costly free trade ? Do we really know the benefits of a Panama Free Trade Agreement with Canada and the United States? No we don’t.

The other night I had dinner with a prominent Panama attorney who has taught and practiced commercial law in Panama for over thirty years and is well-connected with the government. He is not convinced that either trade Agreement would be in the best interests of Panama. He also deplores the lack of a comprehensive public consultation in Panama involving important stakeholders from the agricultural, fishing, financial, resource, and other important sectors.

Quo vadis Canada ? Why the hurry? Thankfully, you didn’t sign this Agreement with the PRD lame-duck government. But, a fifth round of negotiations has come to an end and Canada will soon be asked to sign a stale treaty predicated upon a time when all ships were rising in a buoyant world economy.

Now, we have a world recession underfoot and Panama will have to subsidize many of its products to feed and care for its people and stay competitive with other markets. Will it be able to do so, in a horrid economy where its hands will be tied by a country that is feeling fewer of the effects of recession that is predicted by most economists to cut Panama’s GDP by two-thirds?

Last month fruit sold at a fruit stand in Southern Ontario was selling for less than fruit sells in Panama. Is it really conceivable that Panamanian farmers can survive when Canada sells larger products for less?

I suggest Panama and Canada each hold a week of public hearings in their respective countries to ensure that what was first agreed to in the four previous rounds is still beneficial to both countries.

My advice is the same for the American FTA with Panama. Only difference would be clamping down on off-shore tax-evaders by making financial institutions and the government disclose the names of their investment account holders and corporate directors. It may be as simple as Panamanian firms requiring American investors to send a disclosure form to the U. S. Treasury before accepting any investment firm in Panama over $10,000.

Remember, both FTA’s are the product of U. S. and Canadian conservative governments that believe globalization is the cure for all economic ills. Right, worked for the banks and automakers. NOT. Fortunately, my lawyer friend wants more proof.

Panama calling. There are more than 6,000 people working in 79 Panama call centers where they earn about $800 monthly (more than twice Panama’s $300 minimum wage). They are bilingual (English and Spanish) clerks who respond mostly to customers calling from the States with questions relative to automobiles, telecommunications, electrical appliances, and electronic products. The business has become highly competitive with more companies relocating to the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Guatemala where salaries are much less.