FTA should be approved

  • 26/09/2008 02:00
  • 26/09/2008 02:00
After his recent visit to Washington D.C. and New York, Torrijos said that he was optimistic, but that given the economic crisis that is...

After his recent visit to Washington D.C. and New York, Torrijos said that he was optimistic, but that given the economic crisis that is afflicting the United States a strong possibility exists that the FTA will be placed on the back burner.

George Bush said to his Panamanian counterpart that the free trade agreement is good for the United States and Panama; therefore Congress should approve it as soon as possible.

Bush added during a meeting with nine other Latin American presidents that the bilateral agreement will generate employment and will give easy access to both markets.

Meanwhile Torrijos and his delegation continued canvassing entrepreneurs in the United States. He gave a speech at the Americas Society in front of an audience of high executives from banks, investment companies, telecommunications and energy enterprises that recognized the advancements made by Panama.

William Rhodes, president of the Americas Society said that Panama has experienced a rebirth in the educational, public health, economic and social sectors, which were very encouraging for businesses that wanted to invest in the country.

Meanwhile a group of businessmen from the Panamanian Chamber of Commerce, who accompanied Torrijos in his visit to the United States, said that the best time in which to ratify the FTA already passed, but they are still optimistic about it.

The entrepreneurs said that during their visit to Washington D.C. many congressmen expressed their interest of having the FTA approved as soon as possible.

However, Marco Gateño, president of the International Negotiations Committee of the Chamber of Commerce recognized that the agreement lost its impulse on September 1, 2007 when Pedro Miguel González was elected president of the National Assembly. He believes that once the political situation in the United States is settled, the agreement will be ratified.

There are a few obstacles on the way, because the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate Barack Obama has said in many occasions that he opposes ratifying new free trade agreements without correcting existing ones.

If the Republican presidential candidate, John McCain wins the elections, then the Panama-U.S. FTA could have a better chance of survival.

It is unlikely that the FTA will be ratified by Congress before Torrijos vacates the presidential office in July 2009.

The FTA cannot be as advantageous as many people believe fro the simple reason that the American economy is heading towards a recession and even President Bush admitted on Thursday morning that drastic measures must be taken before it is too late.

Panama’s main exports to the United States are agricultural products such as bananas, watermelons, melons and similar goods that perhaps many Americans will not be able to buy while they are battling unemployment, inflation and having their homes repossessed.

In any case the decision to ratify or not the FTA rests with Congress, which right now is too busy solving internal problems.

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