The government has authorized Consorcio Industrial de las Américas to build a free zone in Pacora, in which 250 manufacturing companies, logistics services, high technology companies, assemblers, and companies from other sectors will set up.
The company Consorcio Industrial de las Américas, S.A. (COINLA) plans an investment of $230 million, starting with $50 million for the initial phase of infrastructure and $180 million in future investment.
Two companies in the food industry and one assembler of electrical panels have invested $11 million to start operating under the free zone regime in the country.
The companies are Caribbean International Foods, Inc., which is engaged in the preparation of bakery products, Industrias Romanina, S.A., which produces tomato sauces, and Quadrotek, S.A., which assembles electrical panels.The companies were founded with Spanish, Argentine and Jamaican capital.
Grupo Aristos has announced plans to invest $75 million over five years in the construction of two new industrial buildings and an office at the American Industrial Park.
The company expects to start construction of the new industrial buildings next year, once the paperwork and necessary permits have been completed.Edwin Escobar, executive director of American Industrial Park, told Elsalvador.com that"... although everything is moving along, it is not going at the speed they want, because 'time spent on red tape is too slow," explained the executive. "
The first stage of the project to develop a logistics center and free zone on 200 hectares in a section of Panama City airport will be tendered in six months.
The head of Tocumen S.A. told Laestrella.com.pa that"... the beginning of the bidding process is expected within six months, and the first stage will start with an investment of $15 million. 'The board of directors has already authorized us to start with the development of the urbinization to adapt 60 hectares for the concession and build the logistics craft'."
The private sector has denounced the fact that 67 companies have already closed or are in the process of leaving the free zone regime because of the implications of the Emergent Employment Act.
With the Emergent Act for Conservation of Employment, rules for enterprise zones have changed, prohibiting them from carrying out 42 activities, among them some related medicines, electronics, cosmetics, animal feed, leather and footwear, plastics, toys, building materials, furniture and importing machinery and equipment.
Although clothing and car wiring harnesses continue to lead, the number of types of goods exported under the free zone regime has gone from ten in 2008 to 20 today.
Production and export of clothing and wiring harnesses are still the main goods produced and exported under free trade zone conditions, but now others have been added such as as cigars, edible oil, fruits, leather shoes, paper, cardboard, and manufactured leather covers for furniture.
It has been announced that in 2017 construction will start of a free zone for agribusinesses in Siquirres, Costa Rica, with a planned investment of $200 million.
The Free Zone to be called "Free Hold Free Zone" will be located in Siquirres, said Rogelio Douglas, CEO of Caribbean Sustainable Development, an organization focused on attracting investment to the province of Limon.In a first phase the free zone will have a constructed area of 73,000 square meters, divided into commercial and office areas.
A trust has been approved which will start off with $1.2 million to fund training plans and provide work training for free zone companies.
The funds for the Trust come from the Ministry of Foreign Trade's budget, and "... companies that receive the incentive must also provide part of the funding for the program that they request, according to the ministry."
The formal closure of 15 companies in free zones has been reported from October 2015 to date and sixty other users have already suspended their operations.
The problems facing the free zone regime have not stopped increasing since the Emergent Law for the Conservation of Employment came into force, which eliminates tax exemptions which used to benefit companies operating under the free zone regime.
Employers of the Colon Free Zone disagree with the audit carried out by the management, which using a new methodology determined that the debt is $41 million and not $530 million.
Surse Pierpoint, Manager of the Colon Free Zone, said the audit was carried out because"... there was a lot of skepticism from Venezuela over the figure", reported Prensa.com. However, Panamanian businessmen of the Association of Users of the CFZ, doubt this new figure, claiming that it "does not represent the real debt".
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