"An FTA with China benefits us as long as we manage to negotiate a win-win treaty for both parties," said the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama, Gabriel Barletta, who in an interview with Panama Today added that within the negotiating commission, which will start operations in July, there are two members of his guild that have extensive experience in this kind of negotiations; "they have been presented with Free Trade Agreements of Costa Rica, Peru and Colombia to learn a little bit of what is good, bad and ugly that they have done and try to have a better agreement with China".
Concerning the economy slowdown, the businessman highlighted that the guild he presides had projections during the first 6 months of the year that pointed to an increase by 5.4%; however, in July and August they will present new projections, since what they call interior economy "that has to with the sale of automobiles, department stores, with all trade in general, and construction has been experiencing slowdown in recent years and obviously it is a major job generator an it is precisely hitting the Panamanian people".
For Barletta, who has 15 years of experience in business management, advertising and communications, the economic boom that the country had from 2009 to 2014 will not return for a long time. "We were growing around, over 10% for some years. For Panama, such a small country, it is unsustainable to continue growing for a long time at that rate." In that regard, he highlighted that "the economic policies of this government were quite clear from the beginning and have not changed in 4 years, then it is not about whether it was positive or negative but the rules were clear from the beginning and for we as businesspeople it is important".
The Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture, believes that tourism is one of the most important pillars to the economy of the country, "Panama is still a hub, it is still a hub for Latin America, for the whole Continent and we have the advantage of having the Hub of the Americas, with which we have direct flights to most of the most important cities in Latin America to generate a great meeting with Panama,” said Barletta.