EMMA is a government initiative that aims to incentivize investment and competition in Panama as part of a strategy to attract foreign investment that will boost the efforts to reactivate the sluggish economy.
This regime looks to repeat the success that was the regime for Regional Headquarters of Multinational Companies (SEM), yet it separates itself from its predecessor by being specifically focused on “an economic sector that can have a high impact on employment generation and sharing of technological expertise”.
The “provision of services related to manufacturing” includes but is not limited to; assembly, remanufacturing, conditioning, maintenance and servicing of products, as well as logistical services, etc. The provisions in this proposal are specifically engineered to provide trade benefits to those SEM that are looking to establish operations in a special economic area of Panama’s territory, be it in the Colon free trade zone, or any of the other free zones or areas under customs surveillance, such as the emerging Panamá Pacífico area.
Corporations operating under a EMMA license, will automatically receive the benefits awarded by means of the Legal Stability of Investments Law Nº 54 of 1998, which was further regulated by Executive Decree Nº 9 of 1999 or any other legal disposition regarding the Legal Stability of Investments.
Regarding the environmental aspects of the initiative, the corresponding legal dispositions will be enforced depending on the area or zone the corporation operates in.
Below is a list of some of the numerous benefits a corporation with a EMMA license can enjoy:
- EMMA corporation must pay 5% Income Tax or be exempt from payment of dividend and complementary tax
- Given that most of the services provided will be exports, these services will not generate Transfer of Personal Property or Provision of Services Tax
- EMMA corporations will not be subject to the use of fiscal equipment or the import into the fiscal territory of products that were: manufactured, processed, assembled or remanufactured by EMMA corporations acting within a specific economic zone, free zone, or any area under customs surveillance within Panama’s territory.
- The aforementioned products may be introduced into the national fiscal territory by a company belonging to the larger corporate group as long as they pay the respective tariffs or customs taxes. These products will only generate taxes or tariffs based on the corresponding tariff to each raw material or component incorporated into the final product.
- EMMA corporations are exempt from the obligation of issuing a Notice of Operation
- Fiscal Benefits for Personnel: in case of salaries and other types of remuneration for employees who are working under a Permanent Worker Visa, these will be exempt from payment of Income Tax or Import tax of household goods, or the totally duty free import of an automotive vehicle.
- Automatic legal stability for the corporation
- Permanent Worker Visa: for a renewable period of 5 years
- Permanent Resident: after the 5 year permanent employment period
- Temporary Worker Visa: for a renewable period of 2 years
- Dependant of Temporary Worker: period may not be greater than that awarded to temporary worker