Temas Especiales

26 de May de 2020

Nacional

Torrijos is going to Washington

The three-day visit will cover subjects such as the long awaited approval of the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries.

The three-day visit will cover subjects such as the long awaited approval of the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries.

The FTA has been on hold well over a year awaiting the approval of the U.S. senate, which seems somehow reluctant to give it the go ahead.

The main obstacle was at one time the then president of the National Assembly, Pedro Miguel González, who has been accused by the American authorities of killing the Puerto Rican soldier, Zach Hernández.

González completed his period at the end of August and is not longer president of the Assembly, therefore one of the main obstacles for the approval of the FTA has been removed.

However, 2008 is an election year in the US and the senate is more concerned about who is going to be the next head of state, and who will control the senate.

During his visit to Washington Torrijos will have meetings with the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, members of congress and senate from the Republican and Democrat parties as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The FTA would give Panama access to the U.S. market benefiting Panamanian businesses, but it could also be a double edged sword, as happened in Mexico where cheap American corn put Mexican farmers out of business.

The former Panamanian Agriculture Minister, Laurentino Cortizo resigned his post over the FTA, because he considered it created disadvantages for Panamanian agro-producers.

The American ailing economy is also dampening the enthusiasm of Panamanian businesses, which feel that potential customers in the United States will not have enough money to spend on imported products.

The former president of the Free Zone Users Association, David Cohen said a year ago that currently there was very little interest in taking advantage of the American market, but that trend could change in the future.

Colombia is also awaiting the approval of its own FTA that is ahead of the Panamanian one in the senate.

The congressmen and senators appear to be reluctant to pass either of them.

It is unlikely that either FTA will be approved before the presidential election; Torrijos is doing everything in his power to move the matter forward.

According to the political analyst Paul Crespo, if republican John McCain is elected more than likely both trade agreements would be approved.

But if the democrat Barack Obama is elected he could brush the FTAs under the table.

The fate of the FTA will depend on who wins the presidential elections and how much support he might have in the congress and the senate.

The United States is facing an economic crisis of gigantic proportions and high unemployment the Panama’s FTA would be a low priority for the next President of the United States.