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Bush Assures Panama On Free Trade Deal

by Mike Godfrey, Tax-News.com, Washington

21 February 2007


United States President George W. Bush has assured Panama's President Martin Torrijos that the US is committed to pushing through a free trade deal that will see tariffs and other barriers to bilateral trade of goods and services eliminated over the next ten years.

"I am committed to a Panamanian free trade agreement because I believe it's in the interest of the United States that we have a free trade agreement with your vital country," Bush told Torrijos during the latter's visit to the White House earlier this week, adding: "And I assure you that we'll work in good faith to get an agreement done, and I will call upon the United States Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, to support this deal that will help both nations."

The United States and Panama announced last December that they had completed negotiations on a free trade agreement, with the understanding that it is subject to further discussions regarding labor. The comprehensive trade agreement will eliminate tariffs and other barriers to trade of goods and services, expand trade between the United States and Panama, and promote economic growth and opportunity.

"I'm very pleased and recognize your commitment for pushing the free trade agenda and trying to finish the free trade agreement with Panama and the rest of the Latin American countries," Torrijos responded. "And also I'm very satisfied to know that Latin America is still a very important part of your international agenda."

Also contained in the agreement are new provisions on customs administration which aim to enhance the transparency and efficiency of trade between the United States and Panama. This establishes a monitoring program for Panama’s free trade zones that will help guard against circumvention of customs rules. Important provisions on trade security will facilitate secure and reliable trade in goods from all over the world which pass through Panama.

The free trade deal aims to eliminate nearly 90% of Panama’s tariffs on industrial goods immediately, with remaining tariffs phased out over 10 years.


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