Panama trip report -Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils

  • Date Added: 24 Oct 2013 from BusinessNZ

  • I was fortunate to be invited by the Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils (GFCC) to participate on its panel at the VII Competitiveness Forum of the Americas (ACF) in October in Panama City.

    The panel discussion, Perspectives from Around the World, was focused on infrastructure and competitiveness. These are topics of great interest to Central and South American countries as they seek to emulate the fast-paced growth enjoyed by many developing countries in Asia.

    The ACF, brings together more than 1,000 leaders from the 34 nations in the Americas – including Heads of State, cabinet members, business executives, trade delegates, academics and representatives from the region’s public and private competitiveness councils, non-governmental and international organizations – to discuss innovative methods to achieve economic competitiveness and promote innovation in the Americas.

    There were certainly some important people at the meeting judging by the number and size of the security details and media in attendance.

    The first day featured political leaders speaking about growth and competitiveness.

    Apart from infrastructure; education, training and skills were an acknowledged part of the success of any country, so that was a talked about topic. Some countries, like Trinidad & Tobago and Panama, are offering all their secondary students free tablets or laptops, and in Panama they also give grants to attend school and free lunch as an incentive to attend.

    Panama itself has had strong economic growth through the GFC (over 10% last year) and the economy is underpinned by the banking sector and the Panama Canal, which is undergoing a significant expansion. They are also diversifying into tourism, and aim to become the main transport hub for the region.  Panama has quite a high rise city and is a place that some US citizens go to retire (they peg their currency to the US$ and it is very affordable).

    By Catherine Beard