Panama - Services

Services make up the largest share of the Panamanian economy and are the country's largest employer. The largest segments of this sector are financial services and trade services related to the Canal. Service exports amounted to US$585.3 million in 1999. The nation's retail sector caters mainly to the middle and upper classes, and it experienced a 3.4 percent decline because of the country's continuing high level of unemployment. The strongest segment of the retail sector is new car sales. While there is no local production, new car sales were worth US$74 million in 2000. Franchising of businesses is increasing dramatically and there are 50 different franchises operating in Panama. Among those franchises experiencing the greatest growth are McDonald's, Chevron, Coca-Cola, and Sherwin Williams. Franchising is expected to provide US$3 to US$6 million annually in new investment.

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