Panama’s economy grew 7.3 percent in 2023

Photo of author

By LatAm Reports Editor

Panama is the fastest growing economy in Latin America in 2023, according to ECLAC.

Panama’s economy grew 7.3 percent in 2023 compared to the previous year, of the largest expansions in Latin America, although the country was semi-paralyzed for protests for more than a month, the Comptroller’s Office reported Monday.

The growth figure of the Panamanian economy more than triples the average for Latin America and the Caribbean by 2023, estimated at 2.2% by ECLAC. Brazil, the largest economy in the region, grew 2.9 percent, and Mexico, the second, 3.2 percent.

“The Panamanian economy, measured through GDP, presented an increase of 7.3 percent,” said the Comptroller General’s Office, on which the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC) depends.

“The increase in GDP this year is explained [mainly] by its components related to the domestic economy, as a result of favorable performance” of construction (36.7 %), sale of fuels (7.3 %), concrete production (17.7%) and thermal generation (95.4 %), according to the statement.

In the external sector there were increases in the re-exports of the Columbus Free Zone (15 per cent), air passenger transport (12.4%), revenues from toll of the Panama Canal (10.2 %), fish exports (41.7 %) and bananas (6.2 %).

For its part, copper concentrate exports (10.3 per cent) and port operations (1.5) per cent fell, the Comptroller’s Office said.

At the end of 2023, Panama was semi-paralyzed for more than a month for protests against the concession contract for the largest open-pit copper mine in Central America, of Canadian capital, located in the Panamanian Caribbean.

Following a Supreme Court ruling declaring the contract null and void, the government ordered the closure of the mine that contributed 75 per cent of the country’s exports and 5 per cent of national GDP.

In the first half of 2023, Panamanian GDP grew 8.8% over the same period in 2022, according to the Comptroller’s Office, which means that expansion was lower in the second semester.

Last January, Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo stressed that in the last three years Panama “has had one of the largest economic growths in the area and one of the best in the world.”

Panama had a growth of 10.8 % of GDP in 2022 and 15.8 % in 2021.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in Diario El Mundo