Genesis of the Colon Free Trade Zone

Around 1914, Dr. Thomas E. Lyons, American citizen and a specialist in foreign trade zones, was accounted by order of then President Enrique Jiménez to carry out a feasibility study in our country in order to build a free zone. Knowing the importance of the geographical position of the city of Colon and this city's adjacent ports, Dr. Lyons states in his studies that the city of Colon is the right place for the long-awaited Free Zone. The president of the Republic issued Law No. 18 of June 1948, whereby the Colon Free Trade Zone was established as an autonomous institution of the Panamanian state, which would have its own legal personality, but subject to inspection and surveillance by the Presidency of the Republic and the Comptroller General.

The first Board of Directors of the Colon Free Trade Zone is established on July first, 1948, being constituted in the following way:

Agustín Cedeño President

Manuel Castillo Secretary

Herbert Toledano Treasurer

Roberto Einsenmann Spokesperson

George Bennett Spokesperson

Galileo Solís Adviser

Note that this Free Trade Zone, began its operations in Calle 5 (5th Street) in the Arboix building and then moved to the Portobelo building in the Cuatro Potencia at Calle 12 (12th Street) and Melendez Ave. As soon as it became law of the nation, the Free Zone started operations with ten companies and thirty-five acres, today we have around 2,000 and one thousand and sixty-five acres.

One of the most important projects for the fiscal year is “Colon Free Port” which seeks to alleviate the extremely delicate situation that exists in Colon. We seek a new marketing channel to bring the city’s Old Town back to life with the creation of jobs, obtaining wealth generation through trade to encourage internal and external tourism to the Atlantic city.

Since its inception, the Colon Free Trade Zone has played an important role in the economy of the country, since it is one of the State Institutions that contributes the most to the gross domestic product of the country.

We want to highlight that the Colon Chamber of Commerce was one of the fundamental pillars to achieve this segregated area that has generated so many benefits for the country, mainly to the province of Colon; creating sources of employment and economic benefits for all the Panamanians.

Among some of the companies that were established at the beginning of the Colon Free Trade Zone, we can list the following: Gillette Export, Coca Cola Export Corp., Pfizer Int., Park Davis Inc. and others.