Panama City Panama: a Business Mecca?
There are plenty of great things about living and working in Panama. I’ve covered those many positives in plenty of past articles. This post deals with the more annoying challenges of living and doing business in Panama City, Panama. So, without further adieu, the list:
- Talent – Good people are always hard to find, but in Panama City, hiring is BRUTAL. Most of the quality talent in the country has been geared toward Canal related industries such as: maritime law, shipping, merchandising and banking. Even if you are operating a business in one of the “talent rich” sectors, you’ll be hard pressed to fill openings without some major headhunting.
- Legal Maze – Laws in Panama are complex and it seems, ever changing. You’ll need a lawyer for seemingly mundane things. Finding a good lawyer merits another article entirely. If you know one, please share!
- Taxes – Panama is NOT a tax haven if you do business IN Panama. In fact, it’s quite punitive if you choose to obey the laws completely, which few seem to do.
- Labor Laws – The laws grossly over compensate for the past sins of fruit and other mega corps that raped and pillages in latin america. Thanks a lot United Fruit Co!
- Supplier Talent, Service – Even if you manage to attract, train and maintain quality talent at your organization, chances are you’re going to need to work with other businesses who may not be up to your standards. Finding quality suppliers and supporting services can be a nightmare.
- Juega Vivo Culture – If you are foreign, there is an element in Panama which will exploit you for being an outsider. It’s very unfortunate, as the vast majority of Panamanians are helpful and kind folks, but there are some that are, well…not. Caveat Emptor.
- A Different Concept Of Time – All those things you read about in 8th grade Spanish and civics classes regarding Latin America having a different concept of time were TRUE. You just need to grin and bear it, or you’ll go insane. This is probably the one thing that weeds our foreigners more than any other. If you can adapt, you’ll survive. If you cannot live without Swiss timing, you’ll have a heart attack.
I realize that this may seem like a discouraging list. The good news is that few first world business folks have that patience for these frustrations, so competition in most areas is very limited. As they say, “In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king!”
|Written by Casey Halloran|
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Filed under: Living & Retirement on March 25th, 2009