New deals with Canada and Cuba
The Foreign Commerce Deputy Minister, Severo Sousa said that the government is working on the two agreements simultaneously, but in the ...
The Foreign Commerce Deputy Minister, Severo Sousa said that the government is working on the two agreements simultaneously, but in the case of Canada the process is more complicated due to the time required to iron out the terms of the deal. The Cuban treaty is different, because it is a partial one. The third round of negotiations with Canada are going on now until Jan 16.
Sousa added that so far they have agreed on 90 percent of export products and only sensitive produce such as milk and pork meat are outstanding. Sousa said that Canada will export more products to Panama, but he expects that in the future the number of Panamanian products going to Canada will increase, because the country is ten times bigger than the isthmus.
“Canada has 32 million inhabitants and the annual average income per person is $20,186. Its imports represent 3 percent of world imports. In 2007 the commercial exchange between Panama and Canada exceeded $700 million, fueled by the exchange of folkloric products, transactions with the Colon Free Zones, financial exchange and investments. A sector that could benefit with the approval of the Free Trade Agreement is non-traditional products, because Canada is a great consumer of sea and tropical products.”
The other Free Trade Agreement on the agenda is the one with Cuba. Negotiations will start on January 21 and will conclude on January 23. Sousa said that Panama would export a great amount of products to Cuba, mainly because processed foods are now sent to the island and the new agreement could include fresh products.
The Panamanian government is planning to include a chapter in the treaty regarding service and tourism as a shared destination. “It will be interesting to share tourism packages with them allowing Europeans to visit Panama at the same time,” said the Deputy Minister. In 2008, tourism in Cuba generated $2.1 billion and that is why the inclusion of a tourism chapter will be beneficial for Panama. Both countries have maintained trade and tourism relations with Cuba throughout the U.S. embargo aimed at toppling the Castro regime.