Most of the concessions to build hydroelectric power plants in the rivers of Chiriquí were granted without paying fees, for 50 years.
Sometime later, Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim entered the hydroelectricity market in Panama, offering almost $32 million for two of these concessions. This triggered a “hydroelectric fever”, with the creation of a secondary market between concessionaries and interested businessmen. In those private transactions the state didn’t earn a single cent.
Although it was not planned in the agenda of the new administration, outside pressures have focused attention on labor reform.
The evidence that the process of this reform has started are the four decrees on labor regulations that were issued by the departing administration.
The loan conditions from the World Bank, demands from the United States, and compliance of the commitments adopted with the International Labour Organization are listed as the reasons that that it is critical to adopt necessary adjustments to labor regulations.
The signing of the agreement of reciprocal protection is intended to expand economic cooperation and stimulate investment.
In its website, Dialogo Ciudadano publishes: "Said agreement contains measures and clauses designed to protect, at international law level, investments carried out on behalf of each state, reducing the legal and political uncertainty factors that sometimes affect the development of projects."
Rafael E. Berrocal writes in an article published in Prensa.com: "The proposal consists of reformulating the reimbursable cooperation program of 18 million euros ($23.2 million USD) that the CE had anticipated for social programs in Panama this year."
From the 11th to the 13th of February, advancement will be pursued regarding the integration of customs and the duties for bananas and sugar, issues still pending in the negotiations with the EU.
PrensaLibre.com publishes in its website: "The Vice President and Panamanian Chancellor, Samuel Lewis Navarre, declared that there still is not a concrete date scheduled for the next round that Central America and the EU will coordinate in an attempt to achieve progress in negotiations and to conclude the talks next May, as they have had anticipated."
Panamanian and Italian government authorities signed an Investment Promotion and Protection agreement.
LaEstrella.com.pa publishes: "Both chancellors manifested high satisfaction for signing the agreement, stating that it will generate a favorable environment and legal framework for investments and activities by companies from both countries."
The Foreign Ministers of Panama and Mexico agreed to restart conversations geared towards fiscal agreements that will allow for the resumption of the FTA negotiations.
"There was an understanding that the technical teams will have to meet regarding the new proposals that the (Mexican) secretary of Finance has sent to Panama," said the Mexican Minister to Notimex, after a bilateral meeting with Lewis Navarro.
Both countries signed documents at ceremony for the exchange instruments for the ratification of the protocol of the bilateral FTA, thereby ensuring that it will come into effect on January 9, 2009.
The Panama Minister of Foreign Affairs, Samuel Lewis Navarro, indicated during the ceremony, which was held at a hotel located to the east of the capital, that with the signing of the document "Panama will continue the process of integration with the rest of Central America."
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