Panama: Most Business-Friendly Country in the Americas

Panama is the most business-friendly country for expatriates anywhere in the Americas, a major new study in the International Living November issue reveals.

When compiling our Business Index 2011, IL’s researchers examined factors such as visa requirements, financing, how easy it is to set up a bank account, local taxes, business expenses, infrastructure and the local business culture in seven business-friendly countries.

Information and ratings were gathered from IL’s network of overseas editors and in-country attorneys, while researchers also spoke with expat entrepreneurs who have established businesses in each of the nations examined in the index.

“Our Business Index 2011 was a chance to take a cold, hard look at which countries on our beat are the most business friendly for expat entrepreneurs to set up shop in,” IL’s magazine editor Eoin Bassett explained.

Panama topped the Business Index 2011, with the gateway nation scoring solidly across each of the eight categories—“Access to Capital,” “Ease of Start-up,” “Market Opportunities,” “Future Outlook,” “Rents and Leases on Commercial Premises,” “Language,” “Business Infrastructure” and “Local Business Culture.”

Research found that Panama, which uses the U.S. dollar as its official currency, also boasts strong consumerism, a growing bilingual workforce and a standard of infrastructure beyond what is seen elsewhere in the region.

“Panama was our stand-out performer,” added Bassett. “Its government has set up a number of programs and special zones in order to attract foreign investors and business people.

He continued, “It’s not just an attractive place for big businesses—Panama is a great option for expats looking to set up anything from a restaurant to an import-export business to a B&B.”

While the downturn has made it more difficult to do business in many countries around the world, Panama has buffered itself against the slowdown thanks to a string of mega-projects like the $5 billion Panama Canal expansion.

English-speaking Belize came second in the Business Index 2011, with the Caribbean nation performing well in three out of eight categories: “Ease of Language,” “Business Infrastructure,” and “Business Culture.”

Ecuador, which recently claimed first place in’s Retirement Index 2011, came in third.

Editor’s Note: Members of the media have full permission to reproduce the two articles below either in part or in their entirety, once credit is given to

The Index, just released in the November issue of International Living magazine, can be read in detail here: “Where to Start a Business Abroad: Our Seven Top Picks for the Year Ahead

You’ll find an explanation of how each of the nations scored and what International Living’s experts had to say about the Index’s top performers, here:

Business Index 2011…What Our Experts Say…

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