LatinNews Daily - 18 June 2024

In brief: Panama’s GDP growth slows

*Panama’s comptroller general’s office has released new figures showing that the country’s GDP expanded 1.7% in the first quarter of 2024. This is down from 3.3% in the fourth quarter of 2023, 9.0% in the third quarter, and 8.2% in the second. Growth in the first quarter of 2024 was driven by public infrastructure construction projects (for which data was not provided), followed by generation of thermal energy (8.9%), and renewable sources (6%), among other sectors driving growth. However, toll revenue generated by the Panama Canal was down 17.6% in Q1 2024 while commercial activities in the Colón Free Zone (ZLC) and exploitation of mines and quarries were also down (though figures were not provided). As regards the latter point, the comptroller general’s office said that this owed to the closure of the massive Cobre Panamá copper mine last year, following the supreme court’s decision to strike down a new contract amid public anger. International credit ratings agency Fitch, which stripped Panama of its investment-grade rating at the end of March in response to the mine’s closure, is forecasting that Panama’s GDP growth will slow to 1.5% in 2024, down from 7.3% in 2023.

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