Port Tampa Bay today hosted a forum to talk about the benefits of Florida businesses doing business in Panama. 

The event, “Doing Business in Panama,” brought together executives and economic development stakeholders to the port’s Cruise Terminal 6, to hear and engage in topics relevant to conducting commerce in and through the country of Panama, which is a global trade hub that is strategically important for Florida, particularly importers and exporters.

Key presenters included Manny Mencia, senior vice president of Enterprise Florida; Joe Lopano, chief executive officer of Tampa International Airport; Fernando Fondevila, regional manager, North America, of Copa Airlines; Ricardo Pedroza, general manager, USA, also of Copa Airlines; and Paul Anderson, president and CEO, of Port Tampa Bay.

Direct air service via Copa Airlines from Tampa to Panama is a catalyst for business interests seeking to establish new commercial relationships or to strengthen existing ties. Copa’s presence in Tampa is creating a new dynamic in the region and generating new and exciting leads.  Also leading to more trade opportunities, the expansion of the Panama Canal will allow it to accommodate larger ships, resulting in greater economies of scale for international shipping and expanded trade. New and expanded container shipping services between the U.S. eastern seaboard and Asia, as well as new connections with Latin America, are among the outcomes that are expected to benefit Florida, as well as the U.S. Gulf region.

“Panama is a strong trade hub and offers many exciting opportunities for our state and the Tampa Bay region.  We are pleased to host this gathering to discuss ways in which we can utilize our relationships and combined assets to develop new commercial prospects between Panama and Florida businesses,” Paul Anderson, Port Tampa Bay president and CEO, said.

Port Tampa Bay is ideally positioned geographically to benefit both from growing north-south trade with Latin America, as well as east-west trade with Asia via the expanded canal.  The port’s location in the center of the state of Florida, which is the fastest growing region of one of the country’s fastest-growing states, provides a huge advantage.