(Adds detail on specific industry sectors)
By Lomi Kriel
PANAMA CITY Jan 24 Panama's economy expanded
10.4 percent in November compared to the same month in 2011, on
continued gains in construction, mining and the quarrying
industry, the government's statistics agency said on Thursday.
Growth in the tiny Central American nation has been
bolstered by several large-scale and ongoing public
infrastructure projects, like the $5.3 billion expansion of the
Panama Canal and the construction of a $1.25 billion metro
system, which is nearing completion.
Tourism has also spiked, boosting the hotel, restaurant and
slot machine industry. The transportation and communications
sectors fared well, spurred by increased container traffic
through the canal and ports. Electricity and water services also
expanded due to growth in hydroelectric energy.
Though the agricultural sector suffered through most of
2012, it continued to show slight gains in November, especially
in cattle, pork and in fruit crops such as watermelon and
Panama's manufacturing sector saw increases in food
processing and alcoholic beverages. But the manufacturing of
metal, plastic, and chemical products once again waned, as did
the fishing industry, mainly because of a decrease in the
species of fish Panama typically exports.
Between January and November, the economy grew 9.7 percent
compared with the same period in 2011.
Panama has enjoyed double-digit economic growth over the
past few years, expanding 10.5 percent in 2011. The Economic
Commission for Latin America estimates a 9.5 percent growth rate
for 2012, making Panama one of Latin America's fastest-growing
(Reporting by Lomie Kriel; Editing by Nick Zieminski)