UK construction firms are being encouraged to take advantage of the growing workload in Latin America

Speaking at the Global Infrastructure Forum, both José Domingo Arias, Panama’s vice-minister of foreign trade, and Ney Jorge Campello, secretary for the 2014 World Cup in the state of Bahia, Brazil, called on UK firms to bid for work on large-scale infrastructure projects such as the Olympics, which the country will stage in 2016.

Panama has one of the strongest economies in South America and has set up the Panama Trade and Investment Agency to encourage foreign involvement and investment.

Its economy grew 2.4% in 2009 with a further 4.5% rise predicted for this year. It has a long-term programme of infrastructure projects both at the planning stage and under way including the expansion of the Panama Canal (below left), a metro system for Panama City, which includes 13 stations, and the expansion of four of its airports, together with the construction of a new one in Provincias Centrales.

Brazil will invest about £35bn in infrastructure for the 2014 World Cup, with £1.7bn of this on stadiums. Campello said the 50,000 seat Arena Fonta Nova stadium in Bahia was a priority. “However, we will also be investing heavily in urban mobility, ports and airports,” he said.