Land of promise
SINCE HER ELECTION IN 1999, PRESIDENT MOSCOSO AND HER ADMINISTRATION HAVE TAKEN GREAT STRIDES IN EDUCATION AND I.T. NOW SHE IS APPEALING TO FOREIGN INVESTORS TO HELP BOOST PANAMA'S ECONOMY
MIREYA MOSCOSO President of the Republic of Panama is confident that once investors are more informed of opportunities, the economy will warm up.
a few months before Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso begins her third year
in office, the countrys first female head of state is more concerned with
a different anniversary celebration that kicks off in 2003, the Republic of
Panamas 100th birthday, as she knows it will be a time of reflection.
The U.S. handover of the Panama Canal in 1999, the same year President Moscoso began her leadership, was the final chapter to Panamas turbulent past and signaled to the world that true democracy at long last had taken root on the isthmus.
There was a 22-year
transition period from the signing of the treaty to the actual handover on December
31, 1999, in what was perhaps the most important act of diplomacy in the hemisphere
in recent memory and an event that will surely be among the countrys highlights
during the centennial celebrations.
"The impact that the canal has had on the world economy is without precedent. The canal radically changed trade and the worlds geographic integration. It brought continents together," recalls President Moscoso.
She is also quick to point out other ways Panama has contributed to progress in the rest of the world. "We have provided the world with great lawyers and scientists. Artists, intellectuals and sportsmen have transcended our borders to become true citizens of the world."
And while there will be good cause to celebrate, Panama is presently going through a challenging economic period. The country depends heavily on investments from abroad, and its economy is closely linked to that of the U.S. Panamas Colon Free Zone has been hit hard by the economic problems in its export markets, namely Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and most recently, Argentina, and the nations banks are just now recovering to their pre-Asian-crisis strength.
“The impact the Canal has had on the world economy is without precedent”
Despite the setbacks,
however, the Moscoso administration has spent far more money and effort on education,
health, housing, security and agriculture than any other Panamanian government
in more than a decade.
"We have reconstructed at least a third of the national education infrastructure and we have brought information technology and the Internet to dozens of communities," President Moscoso points out.
Panamas overall growth last year was about 1%, and the Moscoso administration hopes to increase that to 3% this year, although a lot will depend on the strength of the world economy and the local investment climate. U.S. investors have been called upon and have shown great interest in Panamas most robust sectors: telecommunications, transportation and tourism.
The President says she has no doubt that once investors become more informed of the opportunities that exist in her country, the economy will quickly warm up. And if anyone was wondering whom Panamanians prefer to do business with, she leaves no doubt: "The relationship between Panama and the United States is very special. U.S. presence in Panama since the very moment we emerged as a nation has given us access to a level of life that is far more advanced than that of any of our neighbors. That fact is highly valued by a wide majority of Panamanians who feel this relationship in a very special way. We want that feeling to grow and strengthen. By a simple matter of destiny, the paths of the United States and Panama have been intimately joined, and we want it to stay that way."
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT SUMMIT COMMUNICATIONS AT: 1040 FIRST AVENUE, SUITE 395, NEW YORK, NY 10022-2902. TEL: (212) 286-0034 FAX: (212) 286-8376 E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org