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Canadian Parliament Backs Panama FTA

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

16 November 2012

Canada's Minister for International Trade, Ed Fast, has confirmed that the Canadian House of Commons has approved a law that would bring a new free trade agreement between Canada and Panama into force.

Once implemented, the Canada-Panama trade agreement will immediately eliminate trade tariffs on more than 90% of Canadian goods exported to Panama, directly impacting industries engaged in the aerospace, pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper, agriculture and agri-food industries. In addition, the agreement will secure Canadian businesses with preferential access to the government procurement market in Panama, where authorities are undertaking a five-year plan to invest in major infrastructure projects.

Commenting, Fast said: "Our government understands that Canadian exporters need to be on a level playing field vis-a-vis their competitors in fast-growing markets around the world. We are pleased that the Canada-Panama trade agreement has been debated and passed by the House of Commons because we know that businesses that expand and succeed abroad create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity at home."

"The Canada-Panama free trade agreement is a key step toward deepening the long-standing relationship between our two countries," Diane Ablonczy, Canada's Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Americas, added. "By being a reliable partner in the Americas our government is creating new opportunities for Canadian workers and their families, and delivering on our commitment to help build a more prosperous, secure and democratic hemisphere."

Panama is an important market for Canada and a strategic hub of commercial activity for Central America, the Caribbean and the Andean region of South America. Panama is Canada's second-largest export market in Central America, after Costa Rica, with bilateral merchandise trade reaching CAD235.3m (USD234.9m) in 2011, up 10.1% over 2010.

To create conducive conditions for local exporters, in less than six years the Canadian government has concluded free trade agreements with nine countries, including Colombia, Honduras, Jordan, Panama, Peru and the European Free Trade Association member states of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. In addition, Canada is engaged in negotiations towards similar agreements with the European Union, India and Japan, and recently joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks.

TAGS: tax | business | free trade agreement (FTA) | export duty | law | tariffs | World Trade Organisation (WTO) | food | agreements | Canada | import duty | trade | Panama

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