Washington – Business Roundtable (BRT) today welcomed the announcement that the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will be implemented on October 31, 2012. The announcement was made through an exchange of letters today by United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Ricardo Quijano, Minister of Commerce and Industry of the Government of Panama.
“Implementation of the U.S.-Panama FTA is welcome news as we work to get our economy moving again,” said Doug Oberhelman, Chairman & CEO of Caterpillar Inc., and Chair of BRT’s International Engagement Committee. “Panama is an important strategic and commercial partner for the United States, and this overdue free trade agreement will increase U.S. exports to the fast-growing region, supporting U.S. economic growth and American jobs in the process.”
The United States and Panama signed the FTA in June 2007 after several years of negotiations. The United States is Panama’s largest trading partner, and immediately upon implementation of the agreement, over 86 percent of U.S. consumer and industrial goods exports to Panama will receive duty-free treatment, with the remaining tariffs phased out over 10 years. The U.S.-Panama FTA provides significant new U.S. access into Panama’s $22 billion services market. It also contains provisions to enforce U.S. intellectual property, investment, and other rights related to trade between the United States and Panama.
In 2011, roughly 40 percent of U.S. exports were to countries with which the United States has FTAs, and U.S. exports to these countries are growing faster than U.S. exports to countries that do not have FTAs with the United States. Last year, the United States sold about $50 billion more in manufactured goods to its FTA partner countries than we bought from them. These figures do not include expected gains from the U.S. trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that are being implemented this year.