The new free zone, which started operating in Palín, houses the Korean textile company Alcatex and the plastics manufacturer Plastifar, from the Dominican Republic.
In addition to Alcatex, the company Plastifar has also started operating in the free zone known as Michatoya, created from a partnership between the municipality of Palin, Escuintla, and the city of Incheon, the main logistics port of South Korea.
In 2016 exports from the free zone regime fell by 4% compared to 2015, and those from companies covered under the maquila incentive law, fell by 6%.
The negative results in foreign sales of companies operating under one of the two incentive schemes is due in part to the departure of several companies from the free zone regime, having been affected by the Emergent Employment Act.
A simpler scheme for importing materials is one of the new features included in the new regulations announced to facilitate procedures for free zone companies.
The leaders of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (COSEP) announced that the new technical circular for free zone companies will be in effect from February 1, and includes, among other things, adjustments to the time and costs incurred by companies when transporting goods.
Schencker from Germany, Blue Logistic from Colombia and the Panamanian companies J Cain & Co. and Colon Import, and two groups who preferred to remain anonymous, have expressed interest in participating in the project.
Joseph Fidanque III, manager of Tocumen S.A., said that when they have the plans for the free zone, which it is estimated will be in about four months, they will call a tender for the construction of the work, which is part of a cargo logistics plan, and includes an investment in the long-term of $70 million.For the first phase they have already approved $15 million, part of which will be used for soil conditioning and roadworks.
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.
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