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Qatar could invest in Panama

The Minister of Commerce and Industry, Gisela Alvarez de Porras said that initial negotiations between Qatar and Panama will take place on February 18 and 19 with the purpose of signing an agreement to promote investments with high value to the isthmus.
The initial negotiations will try to identify the specific areas of involvement for Panama.
Porras said that in 2008 the Qatar government expressed its interest in negotiating a bilateral agreement that will serve as an instrument to develop new projects, especially those related to infrastructure and advanced technology.
According to the minister, Qatar has a very liberal commercial regime, with a relatively speedy customs process, which is the product of of connections it has in the gulf region.
Minister Porras believes that Qatar could become a unique commercial partner that will allow Panama to progress even more as a result of investment it can make here.
It is estimated that the Qatar investments around the world and particularly in developing countries economies are over $174 billion and its principal commercial partners in the region are Mexico, Peru and Colombia.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development UNCTAD said in 2007 that Qatar and Panama are the front runners investment receptors and that is why there is a natural understanding between the two countries.

Leroy Sheffer, who is the Commercial Negotiations Chief will represent Panama during the initial discussions.
In 2007 when the former Minister of Commerce, Alejandro Ferrer visited the Middle East country, Qatar Petroleum expressed its interest in building a refinery in Puerto Armuelles, Chiriqui, which could have become a key project for the economic and social development of Panama.
Although the current Commerce Ministry has not said if the project would be revived a strong possibility exists that the negotiators might discuss the refinery, which could mean lower fuel prices for national consumers.

Qatar Petroleum, which is a government owned enterprise, is the company responsible for finding, exploiting, refining, transporting and storing crude oil and fuel. It is also is in charge of the commercial exchange, distribution, sale and export of these products.
If it is involved in the negotiations then Panama could become an energy hub for Qatar in the Central American region.
Minister Porras has not given a list of topics for the meetings, but a strong possibility exists that fuel exports would be at the top of the agenda.
Qatar’s oil reserves are estimated at 15 billion barrels of crude oil or 22 years of reserves and 75 percent of its Gross Domestic Product comes from the industrial sector and only 1 percent depends on the agricultural sector.


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