Photo: U.S. Panama Trade Agreement Moves Forward
Yesterday, key government officials, trade stakeholders, and members of the press were on hand to witness U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Panamanian Minister of Commerce and Industry Ricardo Quijano sign a letter exchange setting a date for the entry-into-force of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA).
This letter-exchange and the pending entry-into-force represent a conclusion to a comprehensive negotiating process—negotiation of the Agreement was concluded in 2006, Panama’s government gave it its seal of approval in 2007, and President Obama signed the agreement into law on October 21, 2011. This is the third such agreement to enter-into-force under the Obama Administration within a year of its signing, following the Korean and Colombian agreements.
Beginning October 31st, Panama will eliminate tariffs on more than 86 percent of U.S. industrial and consumer goods. Almost half of U.S. agricultural goods, which currently face average tariffs of 15 percent, will immediately become duty-free. All tariffs on industrial goods will be eliminated within 10 years, and most of the remaining tariffs on agricultural goods will be eliminated over the next 15 years. U.S. service providers will gain significantly greater access to Panama’s $22 billion services market, and will enjoy greater protections as they do so.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce noted:
“’This critical agreement will ignite economic growth and job creation in the U.S. and Panama,” said U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President for International Affairs Myron Brilliant. “With this step, we can take the century-old U.S.-Panama alliance to the next level. The agreement will level the playing field for U.S. workers, farmers, and companies by immediately eliminating Panamanian duties on more than 87% of U.S. exports. It will also open services markets and strengthen intellectual property rights.”