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Profit From Panama Canal Expansion

Earlier today, amid much pomp and fanfare, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) opened the sealed bids for the canal expansion project. Audience members looked on eagerly like it was the Academy Award for best picture…  The lowest bidder? A consortium led by Italy’s Impregilo, ringing in for a cool $3.12 billion.

Wait, wait, not so fast.  The contract has yet to be awarded and the ACP has a point system that factors both price and technical analysis in determining the ultimate winner.  This is Panama-speak for ‘whoever leaves the most money on the table.’  Naturally, they are capitalists.

Frankly, it doesn’t really matter who ultimately wins the bid– Spain’s ACS, Italy’s Impreglio, or the Bechtel/Mitsubishi joint venture. The important fact is that the project will undoubtedly be
bloated and over budget, and the amount of work involved is far more than the initial survey results suggested.

Entire armies of labor and supervisors will be needed, as well as expat executives, managers, and engineers who will relocate to Panama for the duration of the project. Coupled with the other mega-projects in the area, as well as the number of multinationals setting up a
large presence in the country, I expect there to be a steady inflow of expatriates business people into the country over the next several years.

This is a major opportunity, and in my opinion, low hanging fruit.

Panama already has its fair share of retiree and wanderlust expats, and I certainly expect these segments to grow in the coming years… but the business expat is a different animal altogether.

Unlike retirees and young adventurers, businessmen relocate with their families.  They are in their prime earning years, and as consumers, they spend orders of magnitude more than other demographics.

Expat businessmen are on generous relocation packages, so they have more money than most.  They need schools. Daycare. Parks with silly waterslides. Home healthcare. A greater sense of security.  Right now, these services are generally lacking in Panama, and this spells opportunity for entrepreneurs.

I have personally seen some multinational companies overpaying by thousands of dollars each month for their managers’ accommodations, and I expect this trend to continue because there is presently tight supply of quality, well-located expat housing… and well-located is key.

Panama City is full of empty condominiums.  Developers simply overbuilt their market… and while some of the condos are very luxurious, most are simply unsuitable for expats who relocate with families, and too far from the job sites.

Developers made the mistake of overlooking the professional, family expat. The best way to capitalize on this for an investor, in my opinion, is to look at land and housing located near the Canal and major job sites; prices have fallen since last year and I see demand surging soon.

For entrepreneurs, there are small business opportunities for anything that caters to the family in the aforementioned locations, especially childcare.

On another note, I mentioned about a week ago that I was working on a way to share some of my contacts.  I’ve decided to put together a series of white papers, and the first one will be Panama… except I’m not going to call it a white paper because it won’t contain any of the usual inaccurate drivel and gibberish you find in google.

No, this will be a Black Paper… concise and intelligence-rich, designed for the investor and entrepreneur.  I’ve spent years and tens of thousands of dollars accumulating the right contacts, and I will not only tell you who to work with, but I will spell out specifically who NOT to work with.

There will be a charge for this… I’m not sure how much yet because I don’t know how many I want to sell; I’m planning on keeping it fairly scarce so that I do not overwhelm my contacts.  If you’re interested, I’d like to hear from you specifically what information you would like to see in a Black Paper– I know that bankers, brokers, lawyers are at the top of the list, but what else? Let me know by commenting below.  I’m working on it right now and your feedback will help shape the content.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Bradley Anderson

    I am very interested in lawyers, bankers and investment people in Austria, Australia (Perth and Sidney) and Uruguay. Thank you.

  • Tom singleton

    I am interested in contacts in Argentina and Uruguay.

  • Nathan Williams

    I’m interested in Panama, Uruguay and other sites you think have relatively stable goverments and solid banking.

  • Tina

    real estate,
    banking (no connections to States )

  • Reney

    Congratulations and a big THANK YOU for your timely Black Paper effort. Suggestions for reliable contacts would be Government Officials (if possible) to expedite approvals there; Real Estate brokers and Escrow like services (if these exist); General Medecine Physician; and Oculist. More will probably come to mind in time. Thanks again for this opportunity.

  • Duane

    Hello, Simon,

    A place to safely store bullion would be helpful to some of your readers, whether Panama or not.

    Reputable car dealers.

    Reputable real estate agents who are not themselves bandits.

    Real estate agents who specialize in fields such as agriculture, timber, remote land, islands, and so on that are not normally handled by most real estate agents.

    Entrepreneurs, inventors or those who have developed potentially licensable methods, systems or processes, if you know of such.

  • David


    I would be interested in seeing an adendum or shortened version of the black paper devoted to information of use to expats who are using Panama as a financial center, but who are living elsewhere in Latin America or the Caribbean.

    I would be especially interested in your review of Thales Securities as a brokerage house, and the availability of safe-deposit boxes in financial institutions and otherwise.

    Thank you. Keep up the spirit!


  • Peter Macfarlane (Q Wealth Report)

    My view of Panama is already well known (positive) so all I can say is that these comments are spot on.

    to Bradley Anderson: Uruguay and Panama have a lot of business ties and several banks in common, I know at least one, so maybe Simon could include some info on that in the Panama ‘Black Paper’.

    Did I read something in WOB a while ago about a plan to open a non-bank safe deposit facility in Panama? That would definitely be of interest…

  • Chessduck

    Hello Simon,
    My wife and I were planning to move to Panama until they raised the required income from $500 to $1,000. My Social Security is $904.
    Is there any way around this without buying an anuity?

    We are now thinking of Uruguay or New Zealand. I am 76. My wife is 46. That may make you think I have money, but I do not. I rescued her from a poor country 10 years ago. And now her — and my — daughters are safely in college.

    We missed Australia because she is one month over 45.

    Would you advise us please?

    Best regards,

    P.S. I have a USCF Life Master rating and have been Chess Champion of two states. I could give chess lessons overseas as I have done for the last 15 years.

  • Bobby

    I am interested in investing in raw land or similar “low maintenance” in Panama, keeping in mind that I cannot be physically present in Panama.

  • Gerald

    I look forward to every issue of International Man and look forward to the Black Paper on Panama. Are there ways the potential expat can do business in Panama’s free trade zone —or the City of Knowledge (Ciudad de Saber)? Is there a gold refinery in Panama that can refine and hallmark a few kilos of gold dust per month? How about storing gold in Panama? Many thanks Simon!

  • Panman

    I’m interested in business contacts in Panama in general. Especially interested in a great deal on a Punta Pacificia condo.

    I also want to know where to buy gold bullion from here in Panama.

    Good Stuff Simon.

  • Brian Richards

    Each of your daily issues is thought-provoking and stimulating. It’s a kind of a WOB daily! Panama desires: A really safe bank, on the order of a good private Swiss bank, which will almost certainly weather the potential world-wide depression. A bank you would feel safe in storing 20 kilos of gold in and sleep well at night knowing there wouldn’t be any hanky-panky. Also, if the bank could act as a stock broker, that would be a plus, and needless to say, banking/financial privacy would be paramount. Best wishes.

  • Reynaldo

    I am interested in technical employment in a expat location.

    The canal expansion sounds ideal

    I am a computer engineer, but with some technical
    communications/ architectural and building background.

  • Andrew

    A\What does it take to be able to go to work in Panama? do you need a work permit? Seconc citizenship? I’m a professional; a veterinarian. Is it possible to get an overseas license? Or do you need one?

  • Marty

    Simon, Great news letter,very interested in contacts in Panama & Uruguay sign me up. Also where can I buy foreign currency without the big spreads the U.S. banks charge. thanks.

  • Tropical Freedom

    I am interested in being on your list for the Black paper.

  • Ames W. Martin

    Bankers, brokers, lawyers, real estate agents. I’m looking for any locations where I might find a good deal on land (ag land too). Safety is also an issue for me, as I am a professional with a family.

  • Art

    I’d like info on whom to contact (or where to look) in Panama to find a site to launch a SCUBA & boating operation–i.e., one where cost of entry is low, little or no competition, property prices low, and dive environment attractive.

  • Robert Hays

    I’ve already communicated some info needs. Here’s two more: Is there a good expat assocation/social group? I’ve found these folks quite helpful on settling in help. Also, straight talk about Colon vs Panama City? I’ve heard Colon is a writeoff due to crime. But maybe that’s another word for opportunity now.

    Chessduck. I’m not concerned personally now, so my information is not really current. You need to check out the New Zealand Immigration site and read what it says about permanent residence visas. They are serious. Unless you can qualify under something other than general skills category, I don’t think you are going to qualify.

    Latest I’ve heard is that the return flow of Kiwis is strong (due to layoffs in Australia and elsewhere), so the NZ government is cutting back on new immigrants. One comment suggested that even long-term UK residents were having trouble getting work permits renewed. If you can qualify, better get your application in the hopper ASAP, since the window is always changing, we’ve a new government in the process of “fixing” things there, and the general economic trend is down. I think the difficulty of getting in is increasing, and will continue to.

    If you can’t qualify as a permanent resident, you can come as a tourist for up to 6 months at a time. But of course no one gaurantees that these or any other rules will never change.

    All the best,
    Bob in NZ

  • Bruce

    Hi Simon,
    I am interested in Black paper on Panama.Also interested in Uruguay,Burma,Malaysia and possibly Laos.Looking for good bank and broker that covers all markets including Canada and Asian markets.Cheers Bruce

  • tony

    hello, I am a private commodities trader that will be relocating in Italy, I would like to make contacts with European brokers that can handle my trades, thank you.

  • r.anthony

    Hello Simon,

    If they exist, I would like to know of any consultants/companies that help with solar power setups for residential or commercial use. Going further, any company that can help design a living situation that is ‘off the grid’ with respect to power, water, waste, food production, etc.

    A source for decent used cars? craigslist or encuentra24?

    and as Duane mentioned :
    “Real estate agents who specialize in fields such as agriculture, timber, remote land, islands, and so on that are not normally handled by most real estate agents.”

  • Jim

    I would be interested in investing in distressed homes/condos is a secure area–lower crime if that is possible. Also expected needs of the incoming expat businesses.

  • Jamie

    Interesting blog. I am looking at Uruguay as a possible future home. Any information will be appreciated. Thanks.

  • Neil

    Great idea ! I’d like to see a contact list of potential construction contractors, who would be likely buyers of equipment needed for the canal project.

  • Lane

    Simon, I have you given out the list? I have many interests here. Just found your site and email list and am loving what you do. Please share when you plan to put it out if not already. Thanks.

  • Kim

    Hello Simon,
    I’m in the very beginning of starting up a web based business. Because of the content and purpose of the site my attorney is advising me to “protect” myself in a number of ways. Which leads me to the question, in your opinion what country do you think a web based business would be the most difficult for our government to”persuade” into cooperation. I’m also looking for the best tax benefits as there will be income from the US to this country. I know that in many countries, one has to take on an agent as a partner, this also has to be a consideration. At this point in time I just don’t feel it sufficent to be protected by the “corporate sheild”,you can be right but you can also be tied up for years in a legal battle. I just want to make money without the “gov” breathing down my neck and taking the lions share..

    Tahnks for you time

  • Dee

    Hi Simon, I am interested in opening a business in Panama and eventually making home there. Your list would be a great start. Have you made the list available for purchase yet?

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