Thanks in large part to the U.S.-Panama Trade Agreement that entered into force this week, we’re about to see a huge surge in business activity between these two countries.
In fact, I’ve been fielding more calls than ever from business people looking to do business both in Panama and the United States.
I’m in good company when I say that trade between the U.S. and Panama will reach record-breaking levels. Here is a statement form U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
Today, the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) enters into force, marking an historic milestone and bringing us closer to our goal of an unbroken network of free trade agreements in the Western Hemisphere. By eliminating tariffs and other barriers, the TPA will significantly liberalize trade in goods and services between our countries, enhancing competitiveness and supporting jobs.
Almost all U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Panama will now be duty-free with remaining tariffs phased out over ten years. Nearly half of all current trade will receive immediate duty-free treatment with most of the remaining tariffs eliminated within 15 years. This agreement will also preserve duty-free access for Panamanian goods previously granted under trade preference programs and help strengthen the Panamanian economy.
The White House has put together an excellent summary of the benefits the Agreement wil have on both economies, including:
1. Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, expanding 6.2 percent in 2010, with similar annual growth forecast through 2015. This comprehensive Agreement will eliminate tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports, promote economic growth, and expand trade between our two countries.
2. The Agreement guarantees access to Panama’s $20.6 billion services market, including in priority areas such as financial, telecommunications, computer, distribution, express delivery, energy, environmental, and professional services.
3. Panama’s strategic location as a major shipping route also enhances the importance of the Agreement. Approximately two-thirds of the Panama Canal’s annual transits are bound to or from U.S. ports.The Agreement will remove barriers to U.S. goods entering Panama’s market; and
4. A Level Playing Field for U.S. Investors: The Agreement ensures that U.S. companies in Panama are protected against discriminatory or unlawful treatment, and provides a neutral and transparent mechanism for settlement of investment disputes.
What I tell anyone wanting to trade with Panama is to start with the free trade agreement. There are a wealth of opportunities for any business looking to increase revenue, create jobs and expand their client base.
Export.gov is an excellent starting point for anyone wanting to export goods to Panama.
The Industry and State-by-State Fact Sheets from U.S. Department of Commerce is an excellent resource for specific information on the Agreement.
The links below offer additional information on the benefits of the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement across a broad spectrum of industries:
- Latin America Trade Coalition
- Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
- U.S. Department of State
- U.S. Department of Commerce
- U.S. Department of Agriculture
Take advantage of the U.S. Panama Free Trade Agreement and you’ll be well on your way to generating a wealth of opportunities for your business.