Economy of Panama
The economy of Panama, unlike the majority of Central American nations, is dominated by service industries like banking, commerce and tourism. The country’s leading exports are still agricultural based and include bananas, drinks, shrimp, sugar, coffee and clothing, though growing manufacturing exports include spare plane parts, cement, drinks, adhesives, automobiles, textiles and a recent jump in information technology. The majority of the country’s commercial success can be attributed to its control over the Panama Canal and the Colón Free Trade Zone. The Expansion of the Panama Canal, expected to be completed in 2015, has generated and will continue to generate most income for the country, resulting in an increase of jobs, reducing poverty and doubling the current transit capacity.
According to the CIA World Factbook, Panama had an estimated 10.6% growth rate in 2011, making it one of the fastest growing economies and historic in reducing poverty and increasing employment. The current unemployment level stands at 3%. The Trade Promotion Agreement that is currently in negotiation between Panama and the U.S. and the $5.2 billion canal expansion could help keep the economy afloat despite the decrease in international trade.