Finding America in Central America – Walmart is coming to Panama!

 

For years now, several of us ex-pats have to been going to a select few stores to find the goods and groceries that we need. These stores range from Super99, Romero’s, and Super Baru for groceries to Arrocha, Conway, and Stevens for other goods. Here in Boquete, there are two grocery stores that are medium size called Romero’s and Mandarin. We also have a smaller version of Super Baru called Deli Baru. Other convenient stores are located around the town of Boquete and surrounding areas that do their best to satisfy the ever-changing needs (and increasing demands) of the Boquete expats and locals. But we need (or is it “want”?) more!

Rumors have been going around that new stores are coming to the Boquete area and also that big chain stores such as Walmart may be coming to Panama from the US.

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Well, we looked into it and these rumors seem to be true. Walmart is building their first store in Panama City, Panama! Other stores will follow in other areas. Also coming to Panama and Central America are stores such as Walgreens and J.C. Penny’s.

 

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The Free Trade Agreement with the United States will allow companies like Walmart to set up shop in Panama. The Free Trade Agreement between Panama and the United States was implemented in October 2013 and will help to reduce the price of goods for all Panamanians.

An official who spoke on the subject in an interview with Telemetro, said there will be more competition when the new Free Trade Agreement is implemented, and this might affect the price of products. He said thanks to the agreement with the United States new products will be available in Panama. He also stated that this will open the possibility of some retail and supermarket chains from the US such as Walmart might come to Panama, leading to more competition and lowering of prices.

In the agreement, American businesses that invest over $3 million will be classified as “multi-service business” and be able to sell directly to consumers as long as they provide both goods and services within the same building.

Walmart commends the Administration and Congress for working to pass the free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Implementing these agreements will lower trade barriers and help level the playing field for American companies. American manufacturers and service providers will be able to grow by reaching new customers overseas, and more American exports will mean more American jobs at a time when they are desperately needed.”

Walmart already has operations in Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Japan, Lesotho, Malawi, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States and Zambia.

The Mexican and Central America division of the retail giant plans to invest almost $1.5 billion in the six countries of their jurisdiction, adding over 400 stores to the chain.

Mexican and Central America Walmart has ambitious plans. With an investment of $1.4 billion, it aims to open 410 to 436 new stores in its geographical area of coverage (6 countries), generating 25,000 direct jobs and 52,000 indirect ones via building construction. The giant aims to increase its sales by 12% in Mexico and 9% in the 5 Central American countries.

So whether you are happy or not about the stores that we frequent in the United States being readily available in Panama, they are coming down and well on their way in setting up shop!

What does this mean for Casa de Montaña? We will have one additional store to choose from when shopping for goods. We look for quality and decent prices. If the future Walmart in Panama lives up to our expectations, we will add it to our list of stores that we can visit regularly!

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