Panama canal expansion attracting residential investors
By James Roberts

Panama canal expansion attracting residential investors

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Panama property is piquing the interest of residential investors ahead of the canal extension. Due to to be completed in early 2015, the project is expected to bring new employment opportunities to the country, not to mention a whole host of attractive assets. Already excitement is building and in June a survey by the daily Panamanian national La Prensa showed 39 multinationals out of a total of 165 are now based in the new Panama Pacifico mixed-use development alone, the Financial Times reported.

UN buildings are also set to come to the country, based in Clayton - a suburb originally intended for US troops during the construction of the canal. The area is now proving popular among international buyers. Wayne Stanley, an English fund manager who first came to Panama in 2005, explained to the newspaper: "Having previously lived in Casco Viejo, Balboa Avenue and the Pacific beach areas, I believe this is one of the nicer projects and locations for a family."

Infrastructure in Panama City is also increasing and the country appears to have set its sights on developing its tourism capacity. Since 1997, the number of hotel rooms in the city has increased from 1,400 to more than 15,000, according to STR Global. In 2012, the country received 2.1 million tourists and the first projections for 2013 indicate ten per cent growth for the year. The Panama Canal extension will be the driving force behind this, bringing more cruise ships to the country.

There are of course barriers to overcome before Panama can realise its full potential. Silvia Pavoni, economics editor of The Banker, told the Financial Times: "Income distribution and transport are still key issues in Panama, just as they are in other emerging markets in the region." However, "from a macroeconomic perspective, Panama is in a privileged position," Ms Pavoni said. The coastal beltway project is also helping to address transport infrastructure in the country, making it easier for businesses and residents to function.

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