3.1 GDP for Panama in 1st quarter of 2019

The National Institute of Statistics and Census of the Comptroller General of the Republic revealed a real gross domestic product (GDP) of 3.1% for Panama in the first quarter of 2019.

According to stats from 2018, the 2019 period of January-March shows a slow down in growth of activity than the two previous quarters and that its similar from the previous year, when GDP grew by 4%.

The sector that grew the most in the quarter was the supply of electricity, gas and water, with a rate of 5.6%, explained by thermal generation that increased by 161%.

Financial intermediation grew by 4.7% due to the performance of the international banking center, which recorded a growth of 4.3% with an increase in the portfolio of internal loans to the private sector, especially the mortgage portfolio and personal consumption. In addition, the activity of insurance companies reported an increase of 8.2%, due to the increase in net premiums.

Construction grew 4.5% due to public and private infrastructure works, mainly roads, ports, mining and natural gas projects, among others, said the entity of the Comptroller General of the Republic.

Meanwhile, real estate activity grew 3% due to the sale of homes built in previous periods.

For its part, the transport, storage and communications group recorded an increase of 4.3%.

The operations of the Panama Canal reported an increase of 6.3%, as a result of higher revenues from tolls and the services provided by the Canal to the ships. In addition, the port system increased its added value by 4.2% due to the greater movement of containers (3.8%), general cargo (51.9%) and bulk cargo (3.2%).

Weak performers including manufacturing industries (with a fall of -0.9% with respect to the same period of 2018), and activities such as, casinos (-2.6%) and fishing, which records a fall of 39.9%

The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) prepared the general budget of the State for this 2019 based on a projection of economic growth of 5.9%. Given that at the beginning of the year expectations have not been met, the MEF lowered the projection to 5.3%.

However, a rebound is expected for the second half of the year with projects such as the construction of the fourth bridge over the Panama Canal, the expansion of the Inter-American Highway between the Bridge of the Americas and San Carlos, the start to copper export and lastly the Tocumen international airport expansion.