Panama’s rise in prominence continues to catch the eyes of the business and investment worlds. The latest to take note, and take action, was Moody’s Investment Services.
NACM has noted previously Panama’s commitment to massively expanding its well-known and oft-used canal as well as its continued work to break down inter-governmental trade barriers has helped in positioning the small Latin American nation as increasingly prominent. Moody’s Investment Services listed the same among many reasons it raised the government’s credit rating Monday.
“Panama's economy has grown at an average rate of 7.3% during the past 10 years, the highest rate of growth in Latin America and among the highest in the world. Despite weakening external conditions, Panama continued to show remarkable economic dynamism in the first half of 2012,” Moody’s said. “Though recent growth rates are not sustainable, medium-term growth prospects remain strong thanks to the expansion of the Panama Canal, the Martinelli administration's ambitious infrastructure investment plans and the recent ratification of the free trade agreement by the U.S. Congress.” Moody’s added that newfound commitment by Panamanian officials toward gold and copper mining also make the nation attractive from a credit and investment point of view.
This comes less than two months on the heels of the Commerce Department noting that, among major export markets, no nation has seen a larger rise in the purchase of U.S. goods in recent years. To wit, the 36.3% increase since 2009 (through September) bested the second faster riser (Turkey) by nearly 8 percentage points.
Key to watch in the coming months and years will be something else that has been already been on expert market-watchers’ radar: whether the government there can manage growth responsibly and avoid creating troubling fiscal imbalances for the medium- and long-term. It’s something that not-too-distant neighbor Brazil, despite its hot status of recent years, has once again seemed to fail in mastering.
-Brian Shappell, CBA, NACM staff writer