Category: Economy & Politics

Political crisis: challenges and opportunities

Panama is currently experiencing a political crisis, which has been accompanied by demonstrations and road blockades for around three weeks. The population is angry about the rapid approval of a controversial mining contract with Minera Panama, a subsidiary of the Canadian company First Quantum Minerals. A broad alliance of groups, including trade unions, teachers' associations and youth organizations, have called for nationwide demonstrations to protest against the contract and demand a ban on mining.

The protesters are criticizing the negative environmental impact of open-cast mining, as well as the unfair conditions and various one-sided advantages for the Canadian company.

The copper mine in Panama has been operational since 2019 and is one of the largest in the world.
It is an important part of Panama's economy (4.8% of GDP) and a major employer (2.3% of total employment).

Meanwhile the opportunity is also used to draw attention to dissatisfaction with the current government in terms of corruption, slow action, etc. At the same time, the opposition parties and trade unions are fueling the mood to put pressure on the current government during the election campaign. Government elections will be held again in Panama in May next year (every 5 years).

The crisis offers the opportunity for a social debate on the sustainable economic development of the country. The government must seek dialog with interest groups in order to listen to their concerns and demands. Above all, they have to find solutions that guarantee economic opportunities as well as environmental protection and social prosperity. Likely, this will also have positive consequences for the future, as lessons will be learned from mistakes made. A new government will have to heed the voice of the people on these issues and act in their interests.

Panama has a history of overcoming challenges, otherwise it would not be the flagship country of the region and the headquarters of major multinational corporations in Latin America.


"FRAPAN-Invest" under the direction of Klaus Happ, will be happy to assist you in finding the right property in Panama. We offer investors advice on real estate investments and on the subject of "emigrating to Panama".

The real estate market in Panama is internationally one of the most interesting for investments and we would like to be your trusted local partner. We are happy to assist you with the initial purchase and take care of your real estate in Panama in a sustainable way.

Profitable, safe and beautiful:
Investments in Panama

Protests in Panama

Panama is a quiet and peaceful place to live. However, in July there were protests and street blockades, the likes of which have not been seen in over 30 years. In the meantime, the situation has returned to normal. Find our report on the background here.

In July, there were mass protests and street blockades all over the country. This was triggered by the increased cost of living and expensive energy prices, which the whole world is currently struggling with. This was joined by demonstrations against the ever-smouldering issue of corruption and other issues that are a thorn in people's side. Basically, people in Panama like to demonstrate peacefully, but not in a way that affects the country's transport system and infrastructure.

This time, however, the protests were more violent and partly deliberately organised by trade union groups (including the construction union), associations and other groups that wanted to fuel the mood and exploit it for their own benefit.

After all, presidential elections will be held in 2024 and the election campaign will start soon. This is where an unsettled mood and publicity-grabbing pictures in social media are to the advantage of one or the other. And if you then bring your own photographers into the crowd and create exaggerated images, you exaggerate the event in your favour.

The provinces of Chiriqui and Veraguas, which are located in the interior of the country, were the centre of the largest protests. Here there were some clashes with the police and complete road blockades of the Panamaericana, which is by far the most important traffic artery and connects the country.

In the capital Panama City, things were comparatively quiet. But the protests in the interior had a short-term impact on supplies in the supermarkets, because the country's own products such as vegetables were stuck on the Panamericana.

The unanimous opinion of the people in Panama we spoke to is that protests (especially against corruption) are good as long as they remain peaceful and meaningful. But the protesters, who took to the streets for the "people", have partly harmed themselves. Less well-stocked supermarket shelves and farmers and other traders who made huge losses and had to throw away their products.

At the beginning of the protests, the government had hidden and hoped that the problem would solve itself. But now the government has been sitting at the table with the different interest groups (and there are many of them…) for weeks to find solutions and compromises. The government has made several concessions, including subsidising fuel prices and "freezing" the prices of other staple foods. Negotiations are still ongoing, including on the prices of medical and pharmaceutical products.

The people responsible for stopping the trucks carrying food have now been arrested.

These protests cannot be compared to the violent protests in other countries in Central and South America. But they should be a warning to the government to tackle the problem of corruption in a targeted way and to distribute the country's large revenues (from the Panama Canal, among other things) fairly and invest them sensibly (education and medical care for all strata of the population, etc.).

Extreme parties from the left and right have never had a chance in Panama, because the population is aware of the bad developments in other Latin American countries. This can also be assumed in the 2024 elections.

Klaus Happ's company "FRAPAN-Invest" advises investors who want to invest in real estate in Panama. He offers advice on the subject of "emigrating to Panama". In addition, he supports companies that want to do business in Panama.

The real estate market in Panama is internationally one of the most interesting for investments and we would like to be your trusted local partner. We are happy to assist you with the initial purchase and take care of your real estate in Panama in a sustainable way.

Profitable, safe and beautiful:
Investments in Panama

“BaseCamp” plans to develop a technology park in Panama

The prominent Israeli company "BaseCamp" will develop a technology and innovation park in Panama. The goal is to make Panama a digital hub in Latin America. This will involve attracting technology companies from around the world, building start-ups and improving education in Panama.

By clicking on the link you can access the report.

Klaus Happ’s real estate company “FRAPAN-Invest” advises investors who want to invest in real estate in Panama and also administers these properties. In addition, Klaus supports companies that want to become entrepreneurially active in Panama.

The real estate market in Panama is internationally one of the most interesting locations for real estate investments and we would like to be your local representative and take care of your real estate in Panama on a sustainable basis.

Profitable, safe and beautiful:
Investments in Panama

Corona virus in Panama / update 30 March 2020

The corona virus has arrived in Panama and there are currently 989 cases and 24 deaths (as of 29 March 2020). The Panamanian government has taken strict measures very early in order to control the virus spread. This is to prevent the stress on the health system, which is of course not as stable in a country like Panama as in Germany. Panama has a very young population (average age 26 years / Germany 44 years), which hopefully will help to keep the mortality rate low. The United Nations praised Panama's measures from the beginning as a model for Latin America (Info-Link).

Here is an overview of the measures:

  • Within 30 days a new hospital for corona patients will be built (module construction system, which allows to use it in other places in the future).
  • Since 25.March there is a curfew throughout the country. People are only allowed to leave their homes for two hours a day to do their shopping. Who thinks that Panama does not get this organized is wrong. The end number of the identity card of everybody in Panama determines on which two hours a day this has to happen. This automatically avoids overcrowding in supermarkets, pharmacies, etc. and the meeting of many people. Pensioners have their own time of day when they can do their shopping in peace.
  • The streets are controlled and non-compliance is sanctioned.
  • Exceptions are professionals at the Panama Canal, in banks, in some authorities and of course in hospitals and other security related institutions. Otherwise, work is done via home office.
  • All international passenger flights are suspended until 22. April.
  • China has donated 5,000 corona tests and other medical equipment to Panama.
  • The government is using 2,000 hotel rooms in Panama City (including the Hard Rock Hotel) to isolate corona patients who have tested positive.
  • The government distributes 30,000 shopping vouchers to socially weak families worth USD 1.5 million. In addition, thousands of food packages are given away every day.
  • Electricity prices are reduced by 30% - 50% and credit payments can be delayed.

Panama has responded very quickly to the new situation, but we have to wait and see how it develops and how the measures work, as is the case all over the world.

The measures taken will have a negative impact on the economy in Panama, as everywhere else in the world. The tourism sector (the main season is fortunately almost over) including the cruise sector and the gastronomy sector are particularly suffering.

The service sector represents about 70% of the Panamanian economy. The main service sectors are logistics, trade, finance and tourism. Thanks to the Panama Canal, the country generates annual revenues between 2 - 2.5 billion USD, which is a lot for a country with 4.2 million inhabitants. Accordingly, great importance is currently attached to the Panama Canal and the seaports functioning as usual, as approximately 6% of world trade flows through the Canal. Currently, many corona supply measures of Latin American countries are organized from Panama ("Hub of the Americas"). The Panama Canal will help to stabilize government revenues. Even if these stable Panama Canal revenues will be lower than normal in the current difficult times. The canal is a windfall for the small country.

The construction sector in Panama is another important component. Currently, construction in Panama is at a standstill due to the corona measures. The "reactivation of the construction sector" with the large infrastructure projects (third metro line, fourth bridge over the Panama Canal, new copper mine) will give Panama's economy a boost again. Let us hope that we will return to normality in Panama as quickly as possible, as in the whole world.

Klaus Happ's real estate company "FRAPAN-Invest" advises investors who want to invest in real estate in Panama and also administers these properties. In addition, Klaus supports companies that want to become entrepreneurially active in Panama.

The real estate market in Panama is internationally one of the most interesting locations for real estate investmentsand we would like to be your local representative and take care of your real estate in Panama on a sustainable basis.

Profitable, safe and beautiful:
Investments in Panama

Impact of the South American crisis on Panama

The latest news from South America is disturbing the world. Pictures of serious unrest and partly violent demonstrations dominate the news about Latin America. Of course, I am often asked about the consequences of the South American crisis for Panama.

A Colombian business friend answered this question a few years ago with a visual comparison:

"Panama is like a cork and always floats above, even when the sea gets more turbulent. And never sinks. If the South American economy is doing well, the goods are shipped via the Panama Canal. If the situation is bad, the rich people of South America bring their money to Panama or Miami for security reasons. Both Spanish-speaking and both USD locations."

Before we come to the current impact of the South American crisis on Panama, let's take a first look at the crisis hotspots in South America.

The reason for the unrest is usually the great social imbalance paired with a poor education policy and corruption. Often small events are enough to set a process in motion. For example, the price increase of subway tickets by a few cents in Chile.

Some journalists already compare the crisis in South America with the "Arab Spring" many years ago. In contrast to these countries, however, it should be noted that the current South American crisis countries (with the exception of Venezuela) are democratic states.

Here is a brief overview of the current crisis areas in the region:

  • The irregularities in the presidential elections in October triggered unrest in Bolivia. As a result, President Evo Morales resigned fled into exile to Mexico.
  • In Chile the price increase for subway tickets was the trigger for the protests in October. After weeks of demonstrations, it was agreed to draw up a new constitution. The current crisis is the most serious in the country since the return to democracy in 1990.
  • The increase in gasoline prices at the beginning of October led to serious unrest in Ecuador. The protests were so fierce that the government had to withdraw the increase in gasoline prices.
  • In Colombia, hundreds of thousands of people went on the streets in November, mostly peacefully against the government. Several people died in the few violent clashes. Here, too, it is a question of calling for more social justice and a better education and social system. The implementation of the 2016 peace treaty with the FARC guerrillas is also on the agenda.
  • In Costa Rica, government elections took place in spring 2018, which led to a left slide. After talks with long-term real estate investors in Costa Rica in the last few days, it has become clear that current policy is discouraging investors due to bureaucracy, costs and taxes.
  • The big countries Argentina and Brazil are struggling with an economic crisis, debt trap and a failed environmental policy.

In the current very turbulent times in Latin America, but also in other parts of the world, such as Hong Kong, Panama stands out positively with extraordinary economic growth and a stable political situation. We do not see any violent protests in Panama. As in any other country in the world, Panama, of course, demonstrates peacefully from time to time. Here, too, we are dealing with issues such as education and social policy. And of course there are a lot of things that Panama can improve (Info-Link). However, the average income in Panama is 1,200 USD per month, a multiple of the countries of South America and the GDP per capita is the highest together with Uruguay.

Countries in Latam

As a USD country, Panama does not have its own central bank and therefore has no possibility to start the money printing machine and generate galloping inflation. The economic growth (IMF estimate 5-6% p.a. for the next 4 years), the USD and legal certainty are the key arguments why most major international companies now have their headquarters for Latin America in Panama City.

There are three major differences to most other Latin American countries, all of which have their origin in the USA:

  • The USD as a safe currency since 1904
  • The Panama Canal as a safe source of income (Info-Link)
  • No military, because the United States protect Panama

Panama serves as a "safe haven" for investors and companies in the USD region. This is unlikely to change due to the current situation in South America. It looks more likely that this will be intensified by the crises in neighbouring countries. Rich people in crisis countries are looking for safe investment locations such as Panama for their capital. And those who want to invest in the Latin American region will probably also have Panama on their agenda right now for lack of alternatives.

As real estate investors, we are noticing this these days, as we are facing increasing international competition when buying real estate in Panama. However, this should have a very positive effect on prices.

Hopefully, issues such as social justice, education and corruption will be addressed throughout Latin America in a sustainable way to improve people's quality of life.

Klaus Happ’s real estate company “FRAPAN-Invest” advises investors who want to invest in real estate in Panama and also administers these properties. In addition, Klaus supports companies that want to become entrepreneurially active in Panama (Business Consulting for Panama).

The real estate market in Panama is internationally one of the most interesting locations for real estate investments and we would like to be your local representative and take care of your real estate in Panama on a sustainable basis.

Profitable, safe and beautiful:
Investments in Panama

Presidency Elections in Panama

On 05 May 2019 the presidential elections took place in Panama. The new president of Panama is Laurentino "Nito" Cortizo (66), candidate of the center-left-oriented party "Partido Revolucionario Democrático" (PRD). The former Minister of Agriculture and businessman was the favorite. Panama is a democratic country where elections are held every five years. These elections have a big influence on the start of new major projects in Panama and are therefore very important for international companies that are interested in doing business in Panama. 

Laurentino Cortizo has set himself the goal of fighting corruption in the country, improving the public education system and giving new dynamism to the economy. Panama's economy has been one of the fastest growing in the world since the early 2000s, but last year it grew by only about 4% below the average of previous years. With new investment programs, the president will focus on further boosting economic growth. The fact that one of the largest copper mines in the world went into operation in Panama at the beginning of the year will also help. According to the IMF, Panama's economy will grow by about 6% p.a. in the coming years. It will also remain interesting to see who will win the new major projects, especially on the Panama Canal, under the new government. These were often Chinese companies under the last government after Panama and China established diplomatic relations and chose Panama as the country in Latin America for their silk road policy. Here, of course, the US and Europe will also try to get more access again.

In summarizing, we can say that the business-friendly politics and focus of Panama will not change after the elections.

We would like to briefly describe the characteristics of the electoral system in Panama and its effects.

In the Panamanian elections, a new president and the governing parties are elected. The major political parties in Panama are called "Panameñista", "Cambio Democratico" (CD) and "Partido Revolucionario Democrático" (PRD). The political direction of the three major parties is basically similar, namely "democratic-center". Left-wing parties have no great significance, since they have learned to appreciate free market economy by living closely with Americans for a hundred years and do not want to follow the mistakes of many South American left-wing countries.

Panama's law stipulates that presidents may only be re-elected after a break of 10 years. Their parties can again be re-elected. Panamanian presidents often come from economically influential families who run large companies in Panama.

Panama Flagge

In this context, we are currently in an interesting and good phase for entrepreneurs who are interested in Panama as a business location. Over the next few months, the focus will be on looking for lucrative projects in Panama and finding local joint venture partners.

Klaus Happ advises and supports international companies that want to become entrepreneurs in Panama. Based on his experience and contacts, he finds partners and interesting business opportunities for companies.
Information on the business consulting Panama


Business Consulting Panama: We support you as a professional and experienced partner

Taxes in Panama

In Germany, you sometimes get the impression through the media that you don't have to pay taxes in Panama...this is wrong. Panama has a progressive tax system in which tax rates and rules are clearly defined. Generally you can say that the taxes in Panama are lower and easier to understand for investors, entrepreneurs and citizens compared to Germany. And the tax system in Panama has a positive feature.

Panama has a territorial tax system, which basically means that Panama only taxes the income that is earned within Panama's borders. For companies and investors resident in Panama, this means that foreign income is taxable in the other country, but not in Panama. This is a significant difference to the German tax system, where you also have to pay tax on foreign income.

Here is a brief overview of the tax rates in Panama (as of 10.2022):

  • Corporate tax 25% (small and medium-sized companies have lower tax rates / multinationals negotiate their own tax rates)
  • Income tax ( salary, rent, etc.), progressive
    • 0 - 11 TUSD annual income: 0%
    • 11- 50 TUSD annual income: 15%.
    • > 50 TUSD annual income: 25%.
  • Capital Gain tax 10%
  • Interest income is tax-free
  • Inheritance tax does not exist in Panama
  • Real estate sales tax: 2% on the sales value
  • Property tax (valid from 2019, based on real estate value, valid for investors):
    • up to 30.000 USD / exempt
    • 30,000 - 250,000 USD / 0.6% p.a.
    • 250,000 - 500,000 USD / 0.8% p.a.
    • over 500,000 USD / 1.0% p.a.
  • Value added tax 7%

Especially in the field of property tax in Panama there are many (mostly very positive) exemptions to the above mentioned rules. For example, real estate completed before 31.12.2011 is usually exempt from property tax in Panama for 20 years. Furthermore, the "first real estate" that you occupy is tax-exempt up to 120,000 USD real estate value. And there are very special tax benefits for investments in the UNESCO old town "Casco Viejo" in Panama, such as a 10-year exemption from taxation of rental income.

The beautiful Panama doesn't make everything perfect, but it tries with its own resources to attract investors and people to the country.

As we are no tax advisors, we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information and you should consult a tax advisor. We would like to give you a good overview and are available to answer your questions with our team of specialists.

The real estate market in Panama is internationally one of the most interesting locations for real estate investments and we would like to be your local representative and take care of your real estate in Panama on a sustainable basis.

Profitable, safe and beautiful:
Real Estate Investments in Panama

Pope in Panama

In January the World Youth Day with the Pope took place in Panama. 300,000 visitors celebrated the Christian festival with the Catholic population. Panama invested about 50 million USD in the organization of the event. Economists expect a positive impact of an additional 1.5% GDP growth for 2019 through direct revenues and the international awareness of the country, which among other things supports tourism.

This should also have a positive effect on the real estate market in Panama, so that investments in real estate in Panama are still very interesting. The real estate prices in Panama are cheap in international comparison, because in best location the real estate prices in Panama City are about 2,500 USD / sqm and the rents about 15 USD / sqm.

The real estate market in Panama counts internationally as one of the most interesting locations for property investment. We would like to be your local trusted adviser and to take care of your investments in Panama.

Profitable, secure and beautiful:
Real estate investments in Panama

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