Realtors® Attend Panama Trade Mission

Seventeen Realtors® from the Realtors® of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale Global Business Alliance (GBA) and the Orlando Regional Association (Ambassador Association to Panama) participated in an amazing Trade Mission to Panama from October 8-12.  The Trade Mission was lead by Asociación Panameña de Corredores y Promotores de Bienes Raíces (ACOBIR) (the NAR equivalent in Panama) CEO Xenia Kwai Ben, GBA Chairman Brian Woods, and Staff Liaison Jessica Wittenbrink. Due to the expansion of the Panama Canal, known as The Great Connection, the country is experiencing exponential growth in industry, commercial, and residential real estate. 

Day 1: Attendees trip began with an education session hosted by ACOBIR. Sessions included a presentation by immigration attorney on visa options and citizenship in Panama, a presentation by international accountant to discuss taxation in Panama, current real estate updates and the launching of their first-ever MLS by ACOBIR, and a presentation by the Panama Tourism Authority and Panama Canal Authority.  Panama has an incredible opportunity for growth right now with new construction projects and special economic development projects taking off.  

The afternoon was a visit to the “Agua Clara Locks”, 1 of two NEW locks of the recently expanded Panama Canal system, located on the Atlantic side of the country.  (The expansion was officially finished and unveiled in June 2016).

In the evening they attended a networking reception hosted by ACOBIR President Eric Van Hoorde with over 70 Panamanian based real estate professionals.

Day 2 - Visited the Panama Canal, touring the new facilities and museum/visitors center, learning about the 100+ history of the canal as the world-wide transport connector.  (Called Miraflores Locks, on the Pacific side).  Next up attendees toured the “City of Knowledge” (Ciudad del Saber) a former military base, re-purposed and used by the City of Knowledge Foundation: a campus that is modeled to be a sustainable city that promotes knowledge management, innovation, culture and human development for Panama and the world.

In the afternoon they toured Panama Pacifico (Special Area Development) formerly Howard Airbase, now reverted lands to form several new construction communities of all lifestyles, schools, retail, construction, and enterprise, featuring a large and fully equipped logistics park with airstrip and regional headquarters for companies such as FedEx and GE.

That evening was dinner at a traditional Panamanian restaurant Las Tinajas, learning about the cultural cuisine, music, dance, and clothing.  (After dinner the city was in chaos because Panama had won the soccer game against Puerto Rico, advancing to the World Cup for the first time EVER.  This lead to endless parties in the streets, standstill traffic, and at about 1AM the President of Panama declared the following day a National Holiday, government/schools/businesses closed!)

Day 3 – In light of the unexpected National Holiday, our plans had to be completely rearranged!

Morning, attendees enjoyed free time on their own exploring Panama then met for lunch at Albert’s in Amador on the causeway.  In the afternoon, they did a walking tour of Panama Viejo, which is the remaining part of the old Panama City and former capital of the country. Touristy stuff and shopping.

Evening dinner at the Trump Plaza Hotel with ACOBIR Leadership (CEO Xenia Kwai Ben, Directors Aldo Stagnaro, Felix Carles, and Past President Alvaro Boyd) and Laura Gimenez, Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs, U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Embassy Panama City.

Day 4 – The trip concluded with a Developers Showcase - Touring several new construction developments (high rises and single family homes/townhomes) in Costa del Este, Santamaria, and Ocean Reef Islands.

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Jessica WittenbrinkComment