Largest Expocomer trade fair opens in Panama

Panama City, Apr 17 (EFE).- The 31st Expocomer trade fair, Panama's most important international business event, opened on Wednesday with the participation of some 600 companies from 35 countries and the expectation that more than $100 million worth of business will be done there.

This year's trade fair - which features Puerto Rico as a specially invited guest - is the largest since the annual event was launched in 1983 and has 860 exhibiting companies, trade missions from 16 countries and more than 14,000 square meters (148,000 square feet) of floor space at the Atlapa Convention Center.

Attending the opening of the four-day fair was Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli and Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, as well as Indian Trade and Industries Minister D. Purandeswari.

Martinelli praised the role of Panama's CCIAP trade and industry chamber of commerce in organizing the fair, which he called the country's "most important trade showcase."

The Puerto Rican governor, in turn, said that Expocomer is an "invaluable platform" for helping convert the island into a "service center" for Latin America and the Caribbean and into a trade port of entry to the United States for the region.

The president of the Expocomer organizing committee, Raul Del Valle, said that an average of $120 million worth of business had been done at each of the fairs over the past three years.

He also said that during the last 24 fairs, business transactions valued at some $2.1 billion had been finalized, the more than 10,700 participating firms had inked about 375,000 business contracts and a total of around 775,000 people had attended.