By offering a short-cut to deliver billions of dollars of Asian-made goods to America’s East Coast ports, the waterway has helped its shipping company customers to lower their collective carbon emissions by 17 million metric tons during the first full year of operation. When the expansion was planned, the authority’s internal forecast was 9.6 million tons, according to Alexis Rodriguez, environment protection specialist at the Panama Canal Authority.
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have lined up $2.5 billion to fund infrastructure projects, the IDB said on Wednesday. The plans would use up to $750 million of funds from the IDB plus commitments for another $1.75 billion from private and public sources in the three countries, known as the Northern Triangle, the IDB said in a statement.
Local investment firm Sun Latin America will be responsible for developing the 800-hectare (1,977-acre) project in the province of Guanacaste, a beach tourism destination some 225 kilometers (139.81 miles) north of the capital, the government said. The park, which will include hotels, eco-adventure activities, sports areas and restaurants, will generate some 2,000 jobs during its 2018-2020 construction, Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís told a news conference.
When the Panama Canal's expanded locks slid open in late June, perhaps no one was happier than executives in the U.S. shale industry. With the goal of making the U.S. a global powerhouse for natural gas exports, these frackers have their sights on Asia. Now they have a more direct route that could significantly benefit their bottom line.
SAY "PANAMA" these days and the word "papers" quickly comes to mind. Too bad. I recently visited this small Central American country and saw firsthand what is largely unknown: Panama is a huge economic success story, enjoying an average annual growth rate that's about the best in the world in the 21st century. Things have "slowed" recently: Growth last year was a tad below 6% but is expected to be a bit above 6% this year. Unlike the numbers coming out of China these days, which are ostensibly slightly higher, Panama’s are the real deal. Its growth is still light-years ahead of that in most of the world’s countries.
After a three-year drought, Guatemala offered $700 million in bonds to help refinance debt and fund a budget deficit. The 10-year notes sold today to yield 4.6 percent, the lowest in the nation’s history, Finance Minister Julio Hector Estrada told reporters in Guatemala City. Demand for the bonds totaled $3 billion, Estrada said.
Panama has decided to adopt international tax reporting standards, OECD chief Jose Angel Gurria said on Thursday, calling the turnaround the beneficial impact of the Panama Papers controversy. "We have just received information that a few minutes ago they went public with a pronouncement saying that they would join the common reporting standards," Gurria told a news conference during the IMF and World Bank spring meetings.
The expansion of the Panama Canal, a $5.3 billion project almost two years behind schedule and plagued by cost overruns and contractor disputes, will open on June 26, Canal Authority Administrator Jorge Quijano said on Wednesday. Contractors building the new locks, which will allow bigger ships to pass through the 102-year-old waterway, will complete works on May 31.
Guatemala’s new government is expected to sell a $500m eurobond in early 2016 to shore up fragile state finances, despite neighbouring Costa Rica struggling to sell a $1bn bond to China and recent havoc across emerging markets. The bond issue is expected “before too long into the year”, according to a senior adviser to the incoming government. “It shouldn’t be a difficult placement. Guatemala is a relatively positive emerging market country and has done well with bonds to date. The economy is going in the right direction and its bonds are trading nicely over par,” he told the FT.
Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA, Spain’s biggest wind turbine maker, and Iberdrola SA, its biggest wind farm developer, won a contract to build and commission four projects in Costa Rica totaling 80 megawatts. Gamesa will provide 19 G90 2-megawatt turbines and 21 G87 2-megawatt devices to the projects under the contract with Globeleq Mesoamerica Energy, the manufacturer said Tuesday in an e-mailed statement. Iberdrola will handle the engineering, procurement and construction of the wind farms, which will each have a capacity of 20 megawatts.
Central American nations have reached a deal to let the first of thousands of stranded Cuban migrants continue their journey north toward the U.S. next month, officials said Monday. The humanitarian transfer will airlift an unspecified number of Cubans the first week of January from Costa Rica to El Salvador, where they will continue by bus toward Mexico, Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Bank of Nova Scotia, Canada’s third-largest lender by assets, is weighing a bid for Dominican Republic’s Banco Dominicano del Progreso SA, according to people familiar with the matter. Progreso has held early-stage informal talks with Toronto-based Scotiabank, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. No final decision has been made and there’s no guarantee a deal will be reached, they said.
The Panama Canal’s new, larger locks should open by April as scheduled despite leakage problems, the waterway’s administrator said, but he wants to see steel reinforcements installed before giving a final completion date. The expanded canal, which is getting its first major makeover in 100 years, will be able to handle ships three times as big as today.
The Chinese company seeking to build a $50 billion canal across Nicaragua said the project has broad public support and that it is willing to alter the planned route to avoid a small town. HKND Group, led by billionaire Wang Jing, said surveys show more than 78 percent of Nicaraguans back construction of the 170-mile (275-kilometer) waterway that officials say will help lure vessels too large to fit through the Panama Canal. The company also said it plans to change the route of the waterway to avoid El Tule, a town on the southeastern side of Lake Nicaragua whose residents oppose the project.
The nostalgic charm of Casco Viejo’s Spanish colonial buildings is a pleasant departure from the cluttered look of the rest of Panama City. The neighborhood, once ridden with gangs and crime, now attracts stylish tourists, many staying at the new Ace hotel, which employs a number of former gang members as part of a rehabilitation of the neighborhood.
Bank of Nova Scotia agreed Tuesday to buy Citigroup Inc.’s retail and commercial banking businesses in Panama and Costa Rica, a move that will nearly triple the Canadian lender’s customer base in the two countries.
After decades of political turbulence, Nicaragua is finally safe and open for business. Filled with undisturbed beaches, sleepy surf towns, and eco-conscious hotels, the country has invested in travel-friendly infrastructure while keeping its local charm intact. Getting there is easier than ever—Delta is offering a new direct flight from Los Angeles (the first on the west coast), and American Airlines has added a direct route from Dallas (a first for the town). Nicaragua's first private airport will open at the end of the year.
Costa Rica should see accelerating economic growth in the second half after the Central American country struggled to recover from Intel’s closing of export facilities last year, central bank President Olivier Castro said. The $50 billion economy is rebounding from bad weather that hit crop production and the closing of manufacturing plants by Intel Corp., Castro said in a May 30 interview in Cancun, Mexico. Public works projects could help spur growth after 11 consecutive months of deceleration, he added.
Macy’s is the most recent retailer to have its results impacted by the West Coast port dispute. This may seem like a transient, one time problem, but the truth is, even on a good day the West Coast ports are bottlenecks that slow the flow of goods from the point of production in the Far East to the point of demand somewhere in the U.S. They’re just too busy.
Costa Rica’s currency is the Western Hemisphere’s strongest performer this year as lower oil prices cuts demand for dollars to import crude. Costa Rica’s colon has gained 1 percent this year, the most among 17 Latin American and Caribbean currencies tracked by Bloomberg, compared with a 2 percent drop for Guatemala’s quetzal, the hemisphere’s top performer in 2014. The colon was unchanged on Thursday at 534.3 per dollar.
Grupo Financiero Ficohsa SA agreed to buy Citigroup Inc.’s businesses in Nicaragua, taking over one of the nation’s largest consumer banks as the U.S. lender simplifies its international network to boost returns. Ficohsa will acquire Banco Citibank de Nicaragua SA and Cititarjetas de Nicaragua SA, it said late Wednesday in a statement that didn’t disclose terms. The purchase, subject to regulatory approval, includes commercial loans, personal loans, deposits and credit cards. Citigroup has $255 million of assets and more than 600 employees in the country, according to the statement.
As it enters the final stretch of a massive expansion, the Panama Canal Authority is setting its sights on an even more ambitious project worth up to $17 billion that would allow it to handle the world's biggest ships. Workers are now installing giant, 22-story lock gates to accommodate larger "Post-Panamax" ships through the Canal, one of the world's busiest maritime routes. The project involves building a third set of locks on the Canal. It is being headed by Italy's Salini Impregilo and Spain's Sacyr, and should open on April 1, 2016.
The Republic of Panama is set to raise US$1.25bn through the issuance of a new 10-year bond, which was launched on Wednesday at a final spread of 178bp over US Treasuries, according to market sources. Final terms on the deal, rated Baa2/BBB/BBB, came at the tight end of guidance of 180bp area (+/-2bp) and inside initial price thoughts of 200bp area released earlier in the day. Proceeds will be used for general budgetary purposes and for liability management transactions. Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank are the lead managers on the transaction, which is expected to price later on Wednesday.
The recent revision of Panama's bank capital rules is an important step toward Basel III standards, yet falls short of full adoption, says Fitch Ratings. The new rules should strengthen local banks' capacity to absorb losses and maintain higher quality capital, particularly for banks with high-risk appetites within the Panamanian banking system. Banks with greater reliance on hybrid instruments will likely be more impacted by the changes in the regulation. The new standards are providing banks greater discretion to limit coupon payments on certain hybrids, which strengthens the equity attributes of these instruments. Previously, issuers could only skip dividends on noncumulative perpetual preferred securities if a bank had no earnings to be part of Tier 1.
The idea of a canal across Nicaragua, easing transit flows between the Pacific and the Atlantic, is as old as the country itself. But despite numerous surveys and plans across the centuries, no Nicaraguan canal has ever been shown to be economically viable for the investors. The United States, European and numerous Asian countries and companies have explored both “wet” and “dry” canals — the latter utilize rail between ports on both sides of the isthmus.
This may be the best time in a decade to diversify into Latin America real estate, thanks to a strong U.S. dollar and a number of positive developments in key cities, according to a new survey. The survey of 20 top property markets in Central and South America conducted by Live and Invest Overseas over the past three months identifies Cali, Colombia, as the most affordable on a per-square-meter basis. The survey considered the cost of two-bedroom apartments of 75 to 100 square meters in each market. This would be a comfortable size for a second home abroad or a retirement residence and an ideal configuration for a rental property in most markets.
For about the past ten years, people have been calling Nicaragua the new Costa Rica. The people who live there respectfully disagree. Nicaragua is less touched by tourism, more culturally rich, and home to a population whose hospitality is innate—and who still make up most of the people you encounter in restaurants and hotels. It’s also still remarkably affordable, while having low crime statistics similar to those of its more popular neighbor. There’s a colonial city in the country’s center, and the nature is as impressive as anything in Central America: volcanoes, rain forests, beaches and exceptional surf breaks. Every expat and part-time homeowner I met seemed to feel that they’d hit the jackpot or gamed the system. They almost couldn’t believe their luck.
As we were reminded last summer when thousands of unaccompanied children showed up on our southwestern border, the security and prosperity of Central America are inextricably linked with our own. The economies of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras remain bogged down as the rest of the Americas surge forward. Inadequate education, institutional corruption, rampant crime and a lack of investment are holding these countries back. Six million young Central Americans are to enter the labor force in the next decade. If opportunity isn’t there for them, the entire Western Hemisphere will feel the consequences.
The Dominican Republic sold $2.5 billion of bonds, the second sovereign debt offer in Latin America this year, to pay off more expensive notes. The country issued $1 billion in notes due 2025 and $1.5 billion in bonds due 2045, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Some of the proceeds of the sale will be used to refinance and repurchase domestic and overseas debt, according to a person familiar with the matter who isn’t authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be identified.
Nicaragua plans to begin building access roads and highways on Monday near the country’s Pacific coast as it starts work on a $50 billion inter-oceanic canal meant to rival Panama’s century-old waterway. President Daniel Ortega and executives from the Hong Kong-based HKND Group, which is building the canal, will attend an inauguration ceremony in the capital of Managua, according to Telemaco Talavera, a spokesman for the project’s development commission. A separate ceremony will be held in Rivas, a town between the Pacific coast and Lake Nicaragua, he said.
A century after the U.S. steamship Ancon first sailed through the Panama Canal, a $5.3 billion expansion delayed by bickering contractors and angry workers is nearing completion. The problem is it might not be big enough. With the expansion 16 months behind schedule, canal administrator Jorge Quijano said officials are studying whether to dig a fourth set of locks to handle a growing fleet of super-sized ships. Those include the 400-meter-long “Triple E” vessels capable of carrying more than 18,000 containers, four times more than current ships passing through the canal.
The United Nations’ Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean estimates that the region’s economy will expand 2.2% this year, a sharp reduction from a previous forecast of 2.7%. The projection is based on weaker external demand, less dynamic domestic demand, lagging investments, and limited room for putting in place policies to boost growth, according to the U.N. agency, known as Eclac. Growth has trended lower in the region over the past few years, with an expansion of 2.5% last year, 2.9% in 2012 and 4.3% in 2011, it said.
Lawmakers in El Salvador approved a tax reform bill on Thursday that introduces a minimum income tax targeting loopholes used by the rich, as well as a imposing levy on financial transactions. The measures were approved with a slim majority of 44 votes of the 84 cast with the backing of lawmakers from the ruling leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) with help from the moderate right wing GANA party.
A few months ago I watched Hugo Rivera, a stocky Mexican border patrol agent as he stood on the bank of the Suchiate River in Chiapas Mexico and looked out across the border to Guatemala on the other side of the water. Skinny young men standing on inner-tube rafts used poles to push their way across the river. "We're on the border between Chiapas and Guatemala,"" he explained. "Migrants cross here,"" he told me, while resting his hand on the butt of his AR-15 rifle, which he carried slung over his shoulder. "We see a lot of cases of Central Americans coming up through here," he added.
The Dominican Republic sold a record amount of bonds in the nation’s first offering of 30-year dollar debt since 1994. The Caribbean nation issued $1.25 billion of the securities due in 2044 at a yield of 7.45 percent yesterday while pulling a sale of five-year peso-denominated notes that officials were considering, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. arranged the transaction.
Costa Rica has mandated Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank for an international bond of up to USD1bn, the country's vice president of investment and public credit, Jordi Prat, said on Thursday. The sovereign is considering a new 10-year or 30-year bond, or a combination of both. It is unable to tap its existing bonds with those maturities as they are trading at low dollar prices and would have original issue discount restrictions.
Managua’s airport doesn’t look anything like it did the day I first arrived there with an ill-considered buzz cut, two donated microscopes and a mind brimming with untested idealism. That was in 1985, when the Sandinista revolution and the American-backed contra campaign opposing it were in full swing. I had taken a leave from college to see the revolution up close, to lend my hand in whatever way I could, including teaching, and ended up staying for nearly three years. At the immigration counter, a compañero in fatigues insisted, in Spanish, that I redo my forms. Leafing through my American passport, he noted that I was born in Germany, but he seemed disappointed that my birthplace was in the western half of the country, not in socialist East Germany. To tell the truth, I was a little disappointed, too, and all the more so when my microscopes, destined for a rural health clinic, were seized by customs.