Last updated in September 2016
Germany has maintained diplomatic relations with Panama since 1951. Panama’s basic democratic order, political stability and consensus with Germany on many international issues as well as its open, dynamic market economy and increasing regional integration form a sound basis for further intensifying the good relations between the two countries.
Panama is Germany’s main export market in Central America and a priority country for German investment. The main advantages offered by Panama as a business destination for German companies are the country’s importance as a highly competitive dollarised regional services centre with its canal, ports, aviation hub, special economic areas, banks and insurance companies as well as its investor-friendly legislation and tax benefits. German companies are involved in major projects (Canal expansion, Panama City metro, etc.) as subcontractors of the executing consortiums.
The German-Panamanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has some 120 member companies and belongs to the German Chamber Network. German companies operating in Panama include ADIDAS, Aqualimpia, BASF, Bauer Spezialtiefbau, Bayer, BOSCH, Brenntag, Commerzbank, DHL, DB Schenker, Dorner Health IT Solutions, Dräger, Forest Finance, Grünenthal, Hamburg Süd, Hansgrohe, Hapag-Lloyd, Herrenknecht, HUMAN Diagnostics, Innovent, Kaeser, Klemm, Lufthansa, MAN, Peri, Oiltanking, Raytheon Anschuetz, Rehau, Rovema, Tönnjes and Würth, some of which use Panama as their regional headquarters.
According to Federal Statistical Office figures, bilateral trade was worth EUR 476.3 million in 2015. German exports to Panama amounted to EUR 405.5 million and German imports from Panama EUR 70.8 million, bringing Germany’s trade surplus to approximately EUR 335 million.
Panama’s imports from Germany are finished products, primary chemical products (mainly pharmaceuticals), machinery, body care products, cars and car parts, electrical and metal goods, optical goods and measuring equipment. Germany’s main imports from Panama are tropical fruits and, in much smaller quantities, palm oil, shellfish, coffee and copper.
Germany (i.e. ships sailing under the German flag) ranks fifth among payers of Panama Canal tolls.
Germany ended bilateral development cooperation with the Panama in 2004 on account of the country’s relatively high level of development. However, as member of the Central American Integration System (SICA), Panama is involved in regional projects, e.g. in the security and environmental sectors and for the benefit of indigenous peoples. Panama also participates in projects supported by Germany as part of the strategic partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America (CEPAL). These focus on sustainable, low-carbon development, energy efficiency and social cohesion. From 2014 to 2017, the Federal Environment Ministry’s International Climate Initiative is providing nearly EUR 1 million to support the protection of wetlands and conservation areas in Panama through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/Global Environment Facility. In addition, Germany supports Panama through the European Union funding made available for regional cooperation with Central America and bilateral cooperation with Panama.
The German Embassy conducts small-scale socially and development-oriented projects. There are a number of young Germans working in the country as part of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development’s “weltwärts” (Worldwards) volunteer programme. The Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation work together with partners in Panama.
Culture and education
Since 2008, cooperation agreements have been in place between the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Panama’s five public universities, the National Secretariat for Science, Technology and Innovation (SENACYT) and the Training and Human Resources Institute (IFARHU). These exchange programmes aim to promote the further education of academics and researchers by awarding co-funded annual scholarships to academic teachers and students in master’s, doctoral and post-doc programmes at Panama’s universities (81 scholarships in 2015). Short research stays in Germany can also be funded. The Universities of Frankfurt and Ulm are engaged in successful cooperation with Panama’s David University in the field of biochemistry.
There is now a German School in Panama: the trilingual Colegio Nikolaus Kopernikus commenced operation in August 2016 with kindergarten, pre-school and primary school sections. A state school in Panama City has been supported under Germany’s Schools: Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH) since 2008.
There is no Goethe Institute branch in Panama. The German Embassy regularly organises cultural events in cooperation with the Goethe Institute in Mexico (Central America Network) and local partners. Panama’s state broadcaster SERTV is a cooperation partner of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
The Centro Cultural Alemán is the only non-school organisation in Panama to offer German language courses with the support of the Goethe Institute.
This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its contents.