The Proposed U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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On June 28, 2007, the United States and Panama signed a reciprocal free trade agreement FTA. Negotiations were formally concluded on December 16, 2006, with an understanding that further changes to labor, environment, investment, and intellectual property rights IPR chapters would be made pursuant to future detailed congressional input. These changes were agreed to in late June 2007, in time for the FTA to be considered under Trade Promotion Authority TPA legislation before it expired on July 1, 2007. TPA allows Congress to consider trade implementing bills under expedited procedures. Panamas legislature approved the FTA 58 to 4 on July 11, 2007. Neither the 110th nor the 111th Congress took up the agreement. The proposed U.S.-Panama FTA is a comprehensive agreement. Some 88 of U.S. commercial and industrial exports would become duty-free upon implementation, with remaining tariffs phased out over a 10-year period. Over 50 of U.S. farm exports to Panama also would achieve immediate duty-free status, with tariffs and tariff rate quotas TRQs on select farm products to be phased out by year 17 of the agreement year 20 for rice. Panama and the United States signed a separate bilateral agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary SPS issues that would recognize U.S. food safety inspection as equivalent to Panamanian standards, which will expedite entry of U.S. meat and poultry exports. The FTA also consummates understandings on telecommunications, services trade, government procurement, investment, and intellectual property rights. The circumstances framing the proposed U.S.-Panama FTA differ considerably from those of two other signed FTAs that are being considered by the 112th Congress. The concerns that Congress has expressed over Colombias violence have not been an issue in the Panama FTA debate, which is framed more by the positive image of a long-standing strategic bilateral relationship based on Panamas canal.
- Government and Political Science