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Panama creates list of countries that discriminate, to protect economic and commercial interests

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018

The Ministries of Economy and Finance, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Industry of the Republic of Panama issued an initial list of 20 jurisdictions in Latin America, Europe and Asia that apply discriminatory or restrictive measures to the Republic of Panama.

9 March, 2018 (Panama City, Panama) – The Panamanian Ministries of Economy and Finance, Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Industry of the Republic of Panama, issued a list of 20 jurisdictions in Latin America, Europe and Asia that apply discriminatory or restrictive measures against the country and that affect their economic and commercial interests.

The list, created by resolution and signed by the ministers of the respective portfolios– Dulcidio De La Guardia, Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado and Augusto Arosemena– is the first step in Panama’s evaluation of reciprocal actions towards countries that discriminate against it, as established by Law 48 of October 26, 2016.

According to Law 48, the corresponding diplomatic steps, propose and approve actions against States that affect the economic and commercial interests of the nation.

The countries included in the list of Panama are: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Croatia, Slovenia, Estonia, France, Greece, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Cameroon, Georgia, Russia and Serbia, jurisdictions that keep Panama has included in different discriminatory lists.

The measure will be effective as of its publication in the Official Gazette. Whereas the list is to be revised at least once a year, the working group responsible for preparing it (the ‘code of conduct group’) can recommend an update at any time.

For more information↓.

Taxation: Panama was removed from EU list

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018
Eight jurisdictions have been removed from the EU’s list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes, following commitments made at a high political level to remedy EU concerns.

Barbados, Grenada, the Republic of Korea, Macao SAR, Mongolia, Panama, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates are moved to a separate category of jurisdictions subject to close monitoring.

On 23 January 2018, the Council agreed that a delisting was justified in the light of an expert assessment of the commitments made by these jurisdictions to address deficiencies identified by the EU. In each case, the commitments were backed by letters signed at a high political level.

“Our listing process is already proving its worth”, said Vladislav Goranov, minister for finance of Bulgaria, which currently holds the Council presidency. “Jurisdictions around the world have worked hard to make commitments to reform their tax policies. Our aim is to promote good tax governance globally.”

The decision leaves 9 jurisdictions on the list of non-cooperative jurisdictions out of 17 announced initially on 5 December 2017. These are American Samoa, Bahrain, Guam, Marshall Islands, Namibia, Palau, Saint Lucia, Samoa and Trinidad and Tobago. The list also carries recommendations on steps to take to be de-listed.

The EU’s list is intended to promote good governance in taxation worldwide, maximising efforts to prevent tax avoidance, tax fraud and tax evasion. It was prepared during 2017 in parallel with the OECD global forum on transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes.

Whereas the list is to be revised at least once a year, the working group responsible for preparing it (the ‘code of conduct group’) can recommend an update at any time.

Jurisdictions that remain on the list are strongly encouraged to make the changes requested of them. Their tax legislation, policies and administrative practices result or may result in a loss of revenues for the EU’s member states. Pending such changes, the EU and the member states could apply defensive measures.

Today’s decision was taken without discussion at a meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council, by means of an amendment to its December conclusions.

The 8 jurisdictions are moved from annex I of the conclusions (non-cooperative jurisdictions) to annex II (cooperation with respect to commitments taken).

Sombrero Pintao, added to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Friday, December 8th, 2017

UNESCO declared that the art of weaving a Panama hat called “Sombrero pintao “ has been added to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Intangible Cultural Heritage is a term used for knowledge, traditions and rituals which permeate the everyday life of a community and form an intrinsic part of their identity and culture.

Unesco sets the record straight on its website: “The vegetal fibres to prepare the talcs, pints and cringes of the pintao hat are obtained by means of manual procedures using five classes of plants and mud”. Hatsmithing procedures and techniques are handed down from generation to generation and braiding contests are organized to encourage hatters to perfect their art, adds the agency.

The international organization, meeting in South Korea, valued the work of the more than 400 Panamanian artisans who perform the trade. “They grow the plants, they work the raw materials, they braid the fibers and they make with them this type of hat that is part of the clothing of all the regions of the country in the folkloric dances and the community celebrations”.

Unesco also highlights the creation of the Sombrero Pintao Museum in the district of La Pintada, in the province of Coclé, which shows the life and techniques of the artisans, as well as the celebration, on October 9 of each year, of the Civic Day and Commemoration of the Sombrero Pintao and the General Direction of National Crafts organizes, in turn, fairs and craft markets to promote the product.

Sombrero Pintao

Sombrero Pintao

Sombrero Pintao and its materials

Sombrero Pintao and its materials

The technique of Sombrero Pintao

The technique of Sombrero Pintao

Artisan of Sombrero Pintao

Artisan of Sombrero Pintao

Artisan of Sombrero Pintao

Japanese Government Decorates the Panama Canal Administrator and his Mother

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

On November 3, 2017, the Cabinet Office of Japanese Government announced the Decoration to Mr. Jorge Luis Quijano Arango, Panama Canal Administrator, and his mother, Mrs. Analia Arango de Quijano.

The Decoration of the Japanese Government, initiated in 1875, has been bestowed twice a year, in spring and fall, to the nationals and foreigners in recognition of their distinguished contribution to Japanese society.

In this occasion, the Japanese government awarded the Decoration “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star” to Mr. Jorge Quijano, Panama Canal Administrator, in honor of his contribution to strengthen the commercial and maritime relations between Japan and Panama.

In addition, the Japanese government granted the award “The Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays” to Mrs. Analia Arango de Quijano, mother of the Administrator Quijano, in acknowledgement of her contribution to disseminate Japanese culture in Panama, through the Japanese floral art, Ikebana.

This year`s Autumn Decoration was bestowed to 4,252 people, including 149 foreigners. The Decoration “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star” was conferred to 24 foreigners. On the other hand, “The Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays” was awarded to 5 foreigners, in which Mrs. Analia Arango de Quijano was the only female foreign recipient of this award.

World Youth Day 2019 in Panama

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

The Embassy of Panama in Japan informs that the World Youth Day 2019 will be held in Panama between January 22 to 27 in 2019.

Please access to the following video and presentation to get more information.

Networking session

Online English guide to Japanese universities

Friday, October 13th, 2017

The Japan Times Online presents your resources for locating the educational institution and and cucciculum best suited to you and your future career goals.

Access to the following web site to find:

・Directory of over 500 universities and graduate schools in Japan

・Overviewes, admissions information of leading universities

・Advanced searchers by location, faculty, programs

・Students’ voice, guide to Japan, and other useful content

XLI Panama City International Marathon

Friday, October 13th, 2017

Panama announces the XLI Panama City International Marathon, which will take place on November 26th, bringing together thousands of runners from all over the world.

The participation of elite, professional and even amateurs runners in the Panama City Marathon has contributed to the success of the event in previous years.

The Government of the Republic of Panama supports this kind of initiative, and therefore extends an invitation to all runners and sports clubs to take part in this experience.

For more information↓.

Call for abstracts for the 34th PIANC World Congress

Sunday, August 27th, 2017

Panama announces a call for abstracts for the 34th PIANC (Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses) World Congress, which will be held from May 7 to 12, 2018 in Panama.

For more information↓.

Guide for Disaster Preparedness in Tokyo

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has compiled a manual called “Disaster Preparedness Tokyo” (Tokyo Bousai*) to help households get fully prepared for an earthquake directly hitting Tokyo and other various disasters.

Please access to the following URL to get more information. ↓.

Tax Cooperation and Transparency

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

H.E. Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado Vice-president and Minister of Foreign Affairs

Talking Point SDG Financing, Tax Cooperation and Transparency a Balancing Act for Developing Countries Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development follow-up SDG Financing, Tax Cooperation and Transparency: a Balancing Act for Developing Countries Side event sponsored by Panama in the context of the Economic and Social Council Forum on Financing for Development follow-up

I. Introduction

• I would like to begin with words of sincere gratitude to all of you for being here this morning to be part of a discussion that we must have: how can developing countries balance the demands for cooperation in tax matters and for increased transparency while at the same time ensuring the resources continue to flow to finance de SDG agenda?

• Panama, like all countries in the international community, has accepted with optimism and a strong political commitment, the Sustainable Development Goals, which have been incorporated into our national regulations and the Government Strategic Plan; we are also taking the necessary actions to initiate its implementation at all levels. In that regard, and taking into account the approaches of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, we are evaluating strategies to ensure that resources are effectively allocated for our development.

II. Economic Environment Progress

• The economic environment shows clear signs of contraction worldwide, with hints of economic improvement in 2017 and 2018, especially in emerging markets and developing economies, although some regional circumstances should be taken into account.

• The Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development represents the overall efforts by Member States to eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions. In the last year, actions have begun to mobilize public and private resources and finance flows and to adjust policies for sustainable development. Its effective implementation gives us the space for individual actions and cooperation to increase investments in sustainable development, with the ultimate goal of boosting global growth and achieving SDG compliance

• The report presented by the Inter Agency Task Force, constitutes the basis of the work of the Financing for Development Forum, which we are holding this week. The report has shown us the many difficulties that countries must face in the global context for implementation of the Agenda, which include not only economic factors, but also environmental, humanitarian, natural disasters, and security crises. We welcomed this year’s IATF report and encouraged them to keep working towards discussing mechanisms and good practices aimed at achieving the SDGs in all countries.

• In the case of middle-income countries, we are a group with very different characteristics, and the challenges we face are equally diverse, not the least of which is still deeply entrenched inequalities: from having to ensure our people the most basic services, to curbing corruption, to improving governance, among others. Considering that this group of countries represents an important part of the international community, our situation has positive or negative repercussions for the rest of the world in a wide range of areas: from poverty reduction, to international financial stability, from global cross-border issues, to Climate change, from sustainable development, to food security and international trade.

• The Monterrey Consensus recommended Member States to build transparent, stable and predictable investment climates, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, along the same lines, is also intended to guide business activities and investment decisions with the sustainable development goals. Nevertheless each country, given its social, economic and political circumstances, advantages and disadvantages, has historically established its particular development policies, aimed at promoting growth in one or another area, which is perfectly accepted within the supply and demand of resources and services in the global economy.

• The truth is that, without investment, in particular Foreign Direct Investment, many middle-income countries will not achieve the SDGs. And it is important to emphasize this, because indeed, we are in that classification, but that does not exempt us from facing the same vulnerabilities as the least developed countries. National policies must be made, not only to create incentives to attract investment, but also to ensure that these investment flows are assigned to areas with a broad positive impact on the population, and also to provide stability in the global economy.

• International agencies recommend that this can be achieved by implementing policies designed to create tax and subsidy packages to change relative prices, regulations and standards to guide the behavior of investments and appropriately designed risk-sharing instruments, including Joint ventures, public – private partnerships, among others. However, the new requirements of the international community look for Governments to establish more rigid regulations on the flows of resources entering their countries.

III. Transparency a core of Panama’s Government

• The Government of Panama for many years, and with particular emphasis from 2014 when President Juan Carlos Varela took office, has turned to the task of meeting the highest standards of international transparency, including Tax cooperation to prevent tax evasion and combat illicit financial flows. IIII. Panama’s Efforts Towards Transparency

• Recently, we welcomed the implementation of the OECD Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (MAC). In addition, we are part of the BEPS Project, and we have adjusted our regulatory and legal framework for the implementation of measures consistent with these actions. In record time we have been removed form the discriminatory listing of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and we are currently applying to the Fast Track of the Global Forum in order to correct the past classification where the latest advances were not taken into account. In addition, we see as positive the increasingly collaborative and coordinated work between the Global Forum and FATF.

• We believe there should be a set of internationally agreed standard objectives and not individually set by each country or group of countries. This applies to discriminatory lists. Although Panama does not agree with them, it is necessary that if they continue to be used, the lists cannot be based on subjective criteria and other than internationally accepted principles; this blocks the efforts of each country to implement them; in addition, such lists indirectly “question” the efforts made by multilateral organizations.

• The standards promoted by international organizations are in the right direction, the challenge is the harmonious implementation not only at the international level but also within each country with respect to the different entities related to each theme. This implementation involves allocating important resources, in some cases, to the detriment of the traditional needs of each country, including the need for tax collection.

• For our country it is important that global discussions start to differentiate between tax incentives with substance, as a means to attract foreign direct investment necessary for the development of countries, against those mechanisms that facilitate tax evasion.

• Available information on the follow up of the FFD agenda implementation recognizes that additional public and private investment will be required to meet the large resource needs associated with SDGs, particularly in infrastructure in developing countries. This will generate employment and protect the most vulnerable against crises. In this regard, we consider that international cooperation is essential to support the creation of policies to achieve this goal.

• Traditionally the least developed countries have used tax incentives as a means of attracting foreign investment, generating employment, transferring knowledge and other benefits to the country, thereby facilitating the achievement of the SDGs.

• Like Panama, many countries have made considerable progress in terms of tax administration and the capacity to manage public finances, as well as the strengthening of the awareness of the link between taxation, setting nationally appropriate spending targets, good governance, accountability and anticorruption efforts.

• However, under the new expectations promoted by the international community, the legitimacy of tax incentives is questioned and risk being considered harmful tax practices. We must ensure that this classification does not affect those fiscal incentives that seek to promote the attraction of Foreign Direct Investment with substance as genuine means of financing.

• We are aware of the need to use equally and better instruments to assess tax policy and administrative capacity in our efforts to develop appropriate strategies to strengthen our tax systems.

• We emphasize the need to take into account the particularities of the economic system of countries that, like Panama, have a platform of services aimed at meeting the needs of the international community, as well as the need to find a balance between fiscal transparency and our commitment to enhance cooperation in tax matters and, fundamentally, the need to generate resources to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

• For middle-income countries, such as Panama, it is of particular interest to include these elements in the discussion to ensure an adequate balance between international expectations and the needs that must be met in the fulfillment of the SDGs by all countries.

• For countries to adjust adequately to the requirements of the international community in tax matters, it is essential, in our view, that international efforts take into account aspects such as the need for appropriate transitional periods when material changes in their systems must be introduced, as well as the proportionality between the measures to be implemented and the cost of that implementation.

V. Conclusion

• Once again, I appreciate your presence and look forward to a fruitful exchange. Thank you