The peculiarity of the geographical position of Panama was also manifested in the structure of its economy, which has been specializing since colonial times in the field of international services, the range of which has been constantly expanding. According to businesscarriers, the service sector accounts for approx. 80% of GDP, while agriculture – 7.1%, manufacturing – 7.0%, construction – 5.0%. This type of economy has received the definition of “transit economy”. Its system-forming elements are the inter-oceanic lock canal, the leading free trade zone in the Western Hemisphere in the city of Colon (FTTC), a major international banking center, the formal status of Panama as the largest maritime power in the world since 1994 (the phenomenon of “tax haven” or “flag of convenience” ) and tourism (since the mid-1990s).
Since the opening of the Panama Canal on August 15, 1914, St. 850 thousand passages through the canal, annually the canal is crossed by approx. 13 thousand ships, and the fees for the passage of ships are approximately 600 million balboas, i.e. OK. 6% of GDP. The volume of import-re-export operations in the FTZK in 2001 was equal to 10.16 billion balboas, and the number of companies operating here is approaching 2 thousand. – countries of Latin America, included, in particular, in the Association of Latin American Integration. In recent years, Russia’s exports to the FTA have sharply decreased, although before they were small in value terms ($0.5 million in 2001 compared to $21.5 million in 1997). In the international banking center in Panama, the impetus for the development of which was the law of 1970, as of December 31, 2001, there were 81 registered banks with assets in excess of $38 billion, although the center’s operations peaked in 1983, when more than 125 banks operated there and their assets approached $50 billion. In the register of the national merchant fleet of Panama to the beginning. In 2002, 10,095 ships were registered with a total tonnage of 143.2 million tons. Thanks to preferential legislation in 1994, international tourism began to develop intensively in Panama, incl. cruise and ecotourism, due to the influx of large investments, including foreign ones, in infrastructure facilities and land returned to Panama by the United States. If in 1994 the country was visited by 362 thousand foreign tourists who spent 261.6 million dollars in Panama, then in 2001 their number was 500.3 thousand (expenditure – 485.9 million dollars).
The specifics of the transit economy model are also reflected in the structure of employment: out of the total economically active population, 1.12 million people. (2001) St. 60%, in agriculture – 18%, in industry – 9.2%, in construction – 7.2%, with a high level of unemployment – 165.3 thousand people. (16.5% in 2002 and 15.6% in 2003).
The open character of the economy of Panama is also given by the free circulation of dollar bills throughout the country. Very low inflation rates are due to the lack of the Panamanian government’s right to issue paper balboas (only coins are minted), the country does not have a central bank of issue.
Therefore, the amount of money in the country is determined by the inflow of foreign capital, the state of the balance of payments, which leads in a developing country to the need for external borrowing.
The uniqueness of the economic model of Panama, based on its comparative advantages in the global division of labor and the claims of the ruling elites of the country to turn Panama into the “Singapore of the Western Hemisphere”, also determines its high degree of vulnerability to the global situation, the influx of foreign investment and fluctuations in the global climate of cooperation. Thus, in the context of the slowdown in the development of the world economy in recent years, the change in the vector of international cooperation and the unstable economic situation in Latin America, which has a direct impact on the activities of the international banking center in Panama and the Free Trade Zone, there has been a slowdown in economic growth. GDP in 2002 was 9.4 billion balboas, or 3.2 thousand balboas per capita, with GDP growth rates of 0.4 and 0.8% in 2001 and 2002, respectively,
The manufacturing industry after Panama’s accession to the WTO in 1997 is in a period of protracted crisis (the decline in 2000 was 3.5%) due to the loss of competitiveness, which leads to a reduction in its share in GDP and merchandise exports. The manufacturing industry is represented by small enterprises, the leading place in it is occupied by the food industry: sugar production (146 thousand tons, 2001), processing and canning of milk, fruits, vegetables, fish, production of alcoholic and soft drinks. The production of the leather, footwear and clothing industries is being reduced. There are small capacities for the production of mahogany furniture. Handicrafts are developed. Against the backdrop of a crisis in the manufacturing industry with an insignificant volume of mining production and a sharp decline in construction (-11% in 2002), electricity generation is growing at a steady pace,
Agriculture, like industry, suffered from the removal of customs barriers. In 2002 the decline was approx. 3%. The main food crops (2001, thousand tons): rice (256.6), corn (85.8), legumes (3.9). The following are grown for export (2002): bananas (about 1 million tons), sugar cane (1.6 million tons), coffee (14.1 thousand tons), melons. The number of cattle in 2001 amounted to 1.5 million, pigs – 312 thousand, poultry – 14.1 million. Fishing (226 thousand tons) and shrimp fishing (5.2 thousand tons) play an important role in the economy and exports. ).
The length of motor roads is 11.7 thousand km (2001), of which 8.3 thousand km are paved; the entire fleet consists of 316 thousand cars, of which 239.6 thousand are in personal use. 19th century Panama and Colon.
The sea ports of Panama (17 in total) are an important element of the country’s transit economy, in 2001 they served 15.8 thousand ships and handled 23.4 million tons of cargo, the number of containers handled was 942 thousand. There are 5 international airports, the largest is the capital airport Tocumen ( in 2001, 2.1 million passengers and 74.4 thousand tons of cargo were served).
Export of goods and services of Panama in 2003 amounted to 7.3 billion dollars (7.6 billion in 2002), import – 7.1 billion dollars (7.6 billion). Main merchandise exports: bananas, fish products, shrimp, oil products from imported oil, watermelons and melons, raw sugar. Imports of goods are dominated by machinery, equipment, rolled metal products, minerals, textiles, and foodstuffs. The main trading partners are the USA, EU, Central American countries, Ecuador (oil import), Colombia, Venezuela, Japan.
The vulnerability of the economic structure of Panama is also associated with the internal imbalance of the model, large interregional disparities, the enclave nature of high-tech sectors of the economy, incompatible lifestyles in Panamanian society, when a smaller part of the population has access to the “virtual benefits” of civilization, and the main segments of the population are deprived of the opportunity to break into the post-industrial society. Neoliberal transformations in the 1990s created in the country only a “showcase of the developed world”, without giving it social and environmental sustainability. If in terms of the degree of openness of the economy, determined through the index of economic freedom, Panama is comparable to developed countries, then in terms of the human development index, which reflects the qualitative characteristics and social balance of the chosen economic model, Panama ranked only 59th in 2003. More than 1/3 of the population lives below the poverty line (poverty among the Indians exceeds 90% of the population), there is a 30-fold gap in the income levels of 20% of the rich and 20% of the poor families. That is why the ruling RDP was defeated in the 1999 elections, and the leader of the Presidential Administration, M. Moscoso, was elected president, who based her program on solving acute social problems of the country’s development, but was forced to act in the face of deteriorating economic conditions and increased criminalization of Panamanian society. The Moscoso administration associates the solution of social problems with reaching an agreement within the framework of a national dialogue with parliament and the opposition on the use of funds from the Development Trust Fund (about $ 1 billion in 2002), which was formed from the privatization of state-owned enterprises in the 1990s.
Science and culture of Panama
Panama has a developed system of training highly qualified specialists and scientific personnel on the basis of more than 10 universities. The main ones are the University of Panama, the Panama University of Technology, the Autonomous University of the Province of Chiriqui, the Specialized University of the Americas, and the University of Santa Maria la Antigua. There are the Panamanian Academy, the Panamanian Academy of History, the National Academy of Sciences of Panama, the National Indian Institute, as well as various scientific and applied centers, incl. Institute for Nuclear Research. The system of library and museum business is widely developed. Panamanian society associates special hopes with the construction of the “City of Knowledge” at the former American military base “Fort Clayton”, which includes the construction of educational institutions, research centers, park of high technologies and holding international forums within the framework of scientific and cultural exchange. Literature and art of Panama reflect the originality of its historical process, the complexity of the formation of a sovereign Panamanian state, the life-affirming optimism of a young nation.