Panama’s geostrategic location has historically granted it an influence on a regional and global level that often surpasses its small stature. Since the turn of the millennium it has been diversifying its contribution to regional and global business through the expansion of its status as an international finance, transportation and business centre. Today, with the Panamanian government spending on a multitude of infrastructure-related projects of all sizes – most notably the expansion of the canal – driving the nation’s pace-setting economic expansion, it appears to be a historic moment for the country. Yet, several obstacles hamper Panama’s seemingly clear path to development, including a struggling education system, the existence of stark inequalities in rural areas and a political system that belies its economic prowess.
This chapter features interviews with President Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal; Ed Fast, Canadian Minister of International Trade; and Enrique García Rodríguez, Executive President, Development Bank of Latin America.