More FTAs for Panama
PANAMA. The Minister of Commerce, Roberto Henriquez, said that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Panama and Canada is 98 percent r...
PANAMA. The Minister of Commerce, Roberto Henriquez, said that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Panama and Canada is 98 percent ready and both governments are holding final meetings to iron out small details.
Henriquez said that he is going to continue to push forward the ratification of the FTA with the United States as it will benefit both countries.
“My chief negotiator just called me back from the United States and he informed me that there is a good atmosphere within the Obama administration and it has great interest for the FTA to be ratified,” said Henriquez.
The Minister said that he also asked the Negotiations Department to give him information about everything that has been implemented with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the organization of 14 countries with which Panama would like to have a trade agreement to benefit the Panamanian export sector.
He added that before this can happen, the treaty with Guatemala has to be implemented.
Another important objective in Henriquez’s agenda is for Panama to participate in the negotiations between Central America countries and the European Union.
“We want to explore the possibility of negotiating directly with European countries using the same model of treaty that the Central American nations will eventually sign with the European block,” said Henriquez.
The Minister did not discard the possibility of having a FTA with the Popular Republic of China, but said it is currently not feasible because Panama does not have diplomatic relations with that country.
“However, we are thinking about incrementing commercial relations as well as having more contact with the legislative authorities, but that is up to President Ricardo Martinelli,” said Henriquez.
Talking about Ecuador’s threats about not allowing companies with links with Panama to have business relations with the Ecuadorian authorities because the isthmus is a tax haven, Henriquez said that these measures will cut commercial exchange between the two nations.
He also asked the chief of commercial negotiations of the Commerce Ministry, Francisco Alvarez de Soto, to give him all the alternatives including the possibility of presenting a complaint against Ecuador before the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Henriquez said that it is worrying that a Latin American country is publicly accusing Panama of being a tax haven and it is not the best sign to receive from a neighboring nation.
“The Panamanian government will apply equal restrictions to Ecuador,” he said.
The Minister of Commerce said that the problems with exports from the Colon Free Zone to Colombia continue. Although Panama received favorable votes from the WTO, Colombia refuses to accept its verdict, and remove import measures and port restrictions that allegedly inhibit the access of Panamanian goods to the Colombian market.
“This is a matter that we need to resolve sooner rather than later,” said Henriquez, where in the worst case scenario Panama would impose retaliatory trade restrictions on its neighboring country.