Panama is currently going through very interesting times - Political banners flood the city with all the candidates promising this and that.
Here's the stinger... not everything that goes on in Panama depends on its own nation... Panama is dependant on other countries such as the USA for basic needs of food, being that it imports around 50% of what it consumes... not to mention the consumption competition of China over Panama - giving roots to the rise in demand of food while the dollar continuously losses its value.
Panama has done a good job in its investments to improve infrastructures around the city and the transportation - NOW is the time to improve its independence from sketchy international markets and ensure its freedom by at least producing enough to cover its basic needs for not only existence but continuous growth.
Here is an interesting article we found --->
By PAT WESTHOFF
"For a reminder of how global markets for food and other products are tied together, there are few places better to go than Panama.
On a recent family trip, we saw how the country has changed since our last visit seven years ago. The Panamanian economy has been expanding at a rapid pace, with growth averaging more than 8 percent per year for the past decade. Average income levels remain low by U.S. standards, but as is happening in China and other fast-growing economies, rising incomes are resulting in many changes in how people live and what they eat.
Agriculture in Panama has some things in common with agriculture in Missouri. The cattle industry is very big, and corn and rice are important crops. Of course, there are important differences — Panama produces a lot of sugar, coffee, bananas, pineapples and other tropical products.
Panama is a small country, with a population of less than 4 million. Even if changes in farm production or diets result in a large proportional change in Panamanian food product trade, it will only have a very small effect on U.S. and global markets. Panama is not China.
However, the Panama Canal means that what happens in this small country can have important effects on Missouri farmers and food consumers. A lot of Missouri-produced soybeans and other food products are shipped through the canal each year to Asian markets.
A major effort is underway to expand the Panama Canal. New locks and other changes will make it possible for larger ships to use the canal, and this should greatly increase the amount of cargo that can pass through it.
If an expanded canal makes it possible to ship a ton of soybeans from Missouri to China at a lower cost, it can both raise the price of soybeans to Missouri farmers and reduce the price of soybeans to Chinese soybean users. Over time, that could mean more production of soybeans in Missouri and more consumption of soybeans in China.
It would be a mistake to exaggerate how large the effects of an expanded canal will be. Shipping costs might drop by a few dollars per ton for products that are worth hundreds of dollars per ton. For higher-valued products, the effects are likely to be very small in proportional terms.
Even if Panama has a modest effect on U.S. food markets, the reverse is not true. Panama imports much of the food consumed in the country, so when world food market prices increase, they will usually increase in Panama, as well. A drought in the United States or increasing meat consumption in China will mean higher food prices in Panama.
Panama is in the middle of a presidential election campaign, with three major candidates. Political ads fill the airwaves, and there are even more campaign billboards in Panama than we see in this country.
One presidential candidate in Panama is trying to make rising consumer food prices an issue in the debate, providing another example of how food market developments can have important effects on consumers — and politics — around the world.
Pat Westhoff is director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri and a professor of agricultural and applied economics"