PANAMA CITY, Panama, March 1, 2011 – Last week, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) led a select number of executives from America’s largest and most successful retailers on an exclusive 3-day trip to Panama. Retailers learned about the country’s growing role as the logistics and transportation hub of the Americas.

The trip included meetings with key government officials and business leaders, including Panamanian Vice Minister of Foreign Trade, José Domingo Arias. Retailers visited some of the Panama’s latest innovations in logistics at the Manzanillo International Terminal Port, Panama Ports, International Business Park Panamá Pacífico and the Panama Canal expansion site.

“We welcomed retailers in Panama and provided them with information on the benefits associated with conducting business in Panama, including economies of scale in shipping, a dollarized economy, especially tailored tax incentives and ready access to more than 470 million consumers in North, South and Central America and the Caribbean,” said ACP Administrator/CEO Alberto Alemán Zubieta.

“This trip was a valuable opportunity for retailers to see for themselves the advancements in the region and meet with key government officials and business leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities of doing business in Panama,” said Casey Chroust, Executive Vice President of Retail Operations for RILA. “On the trip, retailers visited the surrounding Canal infrastructure and viewed the innovative opportunities for sourcing, distribution, and value-added services.”

The scheduled 2014 completion of the historic expansion of the Panama Canal is certain to impact and change the movement of global freight.  The trip provided retailers a first-hand understanding of how the expansion of the Canal will shape the flow of goods in the United States, Latin America, and around the world.

Panama is fast becoming the transportation and logistics hub of the Americas with its unmatched regional connectivity, strategic location, strong economy, and world-famous Canal that joins more than 144 trade routes across the globe. All of these things, combined with its dollarized economy, make Panama an attractive location for foreign companies to establish their Latin American headquarters. The country offers unparalleled special incentives for multinational companies doing business abroad, including tax exemptions and flexible relocation procedures for executives in managerial positions and their families.

About the Panama Canal Authority (ACP)
The ACP is the autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the ACP is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. For more information, please visit http://www.pancanal.com/. You can also follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/thepanamacanal.

About the Retail Industry Leaders Association
RILA is the trade association of the world’s largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and operate more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.