Panama economic growth slows to lowest since 2010

A view from the new control tower to the new set of looks of at the expansion project of the Panama Canal on the pacific side in Panama City, November 17, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - Panama’s economy grew at its slowest rate in five years in 2015, data showed on Friday, missing government estimates as infrastructure projects were stalled.

The economy grew 5.8 percent, the comptroller office said, driven by financial services, the Panama Canal and tourism. In 2010 the economy grew at the same rate.

But although Panama is still one of the fastest-growing economies in the region, it was dragged down by delayed infrastructure projects and lower activity at the Colon Free Trade Zone, the world’s largest duty-free area after Hong Kong, affected by falling demand from Venezuela and Colombia.

The economy grew 5.3 percent in the fourth quarter, the government said.

In 2016, the government expects growth of 6.2 percent, driven by large projects such as an extra metro line in the capital Panama City and commercial operations using the new third set of locks in the canal.

Reporting by Elida Moreno; Editing by Kim Coghill