Panama growth accelerates in July despite slower canal traffic

Reuters

PANAMA CITY, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Panama's economy acceleratedin July, data showed on Thursday, as infrastructure spending andgrowth in the mining and telecommunications industries offsetslower traffic through its trademark canal.

Activity in the tiny Central American nation rose 6.28percent compared to the same month last year, the governmentstatistics agency said, from an upwardly-revised 6.04 pct inJune.

The economy ministry projects the $33 billion economy willhave an overall growth rate of 8.5 percent this year.

Much of the growth is thanks to significant governmentinfrastructure spending, including the ongoing expansion of thePanama Canal and the $1.8 billion construction of CentralAmerica's first metro.

In July, traffic in the canal and ports continued thedownward slide that has characterized the year.

Along with a global slowdown that has dampened trade, adelay in the opening of the expanded canal has persuaded someshippers to use alternative routes such as the Suez Canal,through which they can squeeze bigger ships.

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