U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement

Update

The California Chamber of Commerce supported US-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement will go into effect on October 31, 2012. The agreement will significantly increase the ability of American companies to export their products to one of Latin America’s fastest-growing economies, while dramatically reducing the tariff rates across the range of US industrial and agricultural goods.

United States, Panama Set Date for Entry into Force of United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement
U.S. Trade Representative, October 22, 2012

US Trade Representative, Ambassador Ron Kirk and Ricardo Quijano, Minister of Commerce and Industry of the Government of Panama, made the announcement which follows completion of a thorough review by the United States and Panama of their respective laws and regulations related to the implementation of the Agreement.

Overview

On Friday, October 21, 2011, the President signed into law: H.R. 3079, the “United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act

The U.S.-Panama FTA was approved by the US Congress on Oct. 12, 2011. The Panamanian Congress passed the Agreement on July 11, 2007.

On November 7, 2005 in Panama City, the United States and Panama had begun working towards a bilateral free trade-trade pact. The United States and Panama concluded negotiations for a Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) in December 2006.

U.S. – Panama FTA: 2011

Final Votes
House: 300 Ayes – 129 Noes
Senate: 77 Ayes – 22 Noes

California DelegationAyes: Becerra, Berman, Bilbray, Bono Mack, Calvert, Campbell, Cardoza, Costa, Davis, Denham, Dreier, Eshoo, Farr, Gallegly, Herger, Hunter, Issa, Lewis, Lungren, Matsui, McCarthy, McClintock, McKeon, Miller, Nunes, Pelosi, Rohrabacher, Royce, Schiff, Thompson, Waxman, Feinstein

Noes: Baca, Bass, Capps, Chu, Filner, Garamendi, Honda, Lee, Lofgren, McNerney, Miller, Napolitano, Richardson, Roybal-Allard, Sanchez (Linda), Sanchez (Loretta), Sherman, Speier, Stark, Waters, Woolsey, Boxer

Panama has been hailed for the strong growth in its economy and its commitment to fighting corruption. In 2015, the United States had a trade surplus with Panama, with exports totaling $7.8 billion and imports over $408 million. California exports to Panama totaled $380.9 million making it the state’s 40th largest export market.

Per the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration, the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement offers tremendous opportunities for California’s exporters. Panama’s strategic location as a major shipping route and the massive project underway to expand the capacity of the Panama Canal enhance the importance of the U.S.-Panama TPA for California’s exporters.

The Agreement guarantees expanded access for US manufactured and agricultural products, as well as to Panama’s $22 billion services market, including in priority areas such as telecommunications, computer, distribution, express delivery, energy, environmental, and professional services.

The US‐Panama TPA is expected to increase US exports to Panama by removing or reducing trade barriers in the Panamanian market and by leveling the tariff playing field. Ninety‐eight percent of Panama’s exports to the U.S. entered duty‐free in 2010, while fewer than 40 percent of US goods entered Panama without tariffs.

According to the USTR, Panama will eliminate tariffs on more than 86 percent of US industrial and consumer goods. Almost half of US 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. Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, expanding 10.6 percent in 2011, with forecasts of between five to eight percent annual growth through 2017.

Panama Canal

The US -Panama TPA will also ensure that US firms have an opportunity to participate on a competitive basis in the $5.25 billion Panama Canal expansion project. Panama’s strategic location as a major shipping route and the massive project underway to expand the capacity of the Canal enhances the importance of the US‐Panama TPA. Ultimately, the Canal expansion will benefit California’s exporters by increasing the Canal’s capacity, which will reduce the costs of transporting goods while keeping up with the demands of a growing global economy.

Background

On October, 21, 2011 the US President signed into law HR 3079, the “United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act”. Just prior, on October 12, 2011, the US House passed the FTA with a vote of 300 – 129 and the US Senate passed the measure with a vote of 77-22.

The United States and Panama signed the Trade Promotion Agreement in 2007 and the Panamanian government approved the Agreement the same year. Work began on the trade pact in 2005, with the US And Panama concluding negotiations in December 2006.

Panama has been hailed for the strong growth in its economy and its commitment to fighting corruption.

CalChamber Position

The California Chamber of Commerce, in keeping with long-standing policy, enthusiastically supports free trade worldwide, expansion of international trade and investment, fair and equitable market access for California products abroad and elimination of disincentives that impede the international competitiveness of California business. New multilateral, sectoral and regional trade agreements ensure that the United States may continue to gain access to world markets, resulting in an improved economy and additional employment of Americans.

The Trade Agreement is a critical element of the US National Export Initiative (NEI) and strategy to liberalize trade through multilateral, regional and bilateral initiatives. Further, the Agreement will increase momentum toward lowering trade barriers and set a positive example for other small economies in the Western Hemisphere.

Also see www.calchamber.com/Panama and www.calchamber.com/PanamaFTA