This paper estimates medium-term potential growth for a country undergoing significant structural and secular changes. Our forward-looking framework, incorporating three analytical approaches for examining economic prospects, constitutes an important complement to typical backward-looking methods that filter or extrapolate historical data. In particular, the opening of the expanded Panama Canal in 2016 highlights significant structural changes underway in the Panamanian economy. We first analyze growth determinants and find that Panama is well-placed to maintain its business model, with improvements in education and governance important to support growth. Second, the current pipeline of investment projects can help sustain investment-led growth, although at a more moderate pace. Third, further development of the logistics and tourism sectors holds promise to further build on Panama’s comparative advantage.
International Monetary Fund. Western Hemisphere Dept.
This Selected Issues paper assesses Panama’s business model founded on its ability to attract international financial, business, and transportation services. Panama has had exceptional growth over recent decades. A growth diagnostic exercise suggests that Panama is well placed to maintain this business model. Higher-quality education, stronger governance, and less bureaucracy will further strengthen Panama’s comparative advantage. Additional analysis suggests that investment will continue to support growth, while the logistics and tourism sectors promise to build further on Panama’s comparative advantage.