Panama passes the buck to EC

  • 16/12/2008 01:00
  • 16/12/2008 01:00
PANAMA. Between 2005-2008, Panama has enjoyed preferential tariffs while exporting its products to the European Union under the General...

PANAMA. Between 2005-2008, Panama has enjoyed preferential tariffs while exporting its products to the European Union under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP-PLUS). Having missed the deadline to renew the trade preferences, Panama will be at a disadvantage compared to other developing countries that export to the European Union starting on 2009.

The government, through a press release, held the European Commission responsible calling it a “unilateral” measure taken by the body.

The press release said the government’s rejected the EC’s decision to exclude Panama from the list of countries benefiting from GSP-PLUS. It added that Panama is one of the few countries that fulfills and applies all of the guidelines established by the European Union to award the preferences.

The fact remains however, that the country should have presented a renewal request form by October 31 2008, and it simply did not.

While the government blames the EC, other sectors place the guilt elsewhere.

Juan Carlos Varela, presidential candidate for the Panameñista Party, disagrees with the Executive branch, and even feels indignant over the “little does it matter” manner in which President Martin Torrijos has been handling the issue in the face of the commercial crisis Panama will have to handle in the coming weeks.

Varela holds the Panamanian ambassador in Belgium, Pablo Garrido Arauz, brother of PRD’s presidential nominee Balbina Herrera, directly responsible, believing that his ambassadorial placement was due to kinship and “not to personal merits.”

La Estrella tried but was ultimately unsuccessful in getting a statement from the PRD candidate.

Meanwhile, Doming Latorraca, former president of the Chamber of Commerce, considers it is irresponsible to blame the European Commission. “What we should know, he said, is whether the government complied or not with the forms and requisites that the EC solicits to maintain access to the preferences.

Roy Riviera, outgoing president of the Panamanian Association of Exporters (APEX) proved to be in favor of the government’s stance. As a country, Panama has met all requirements asked for by the EC and “it is not fair that we should be excluded from the preferences for one administrative procedure,” he argued.

The Panamanian government is formulating a strategy to try and reverse the decision made by the European Commission. If it finds no way out, the country will have to wait until 2010 to reapply.

Panama right exports 7,200 products to the European Union, among which are seafood, vegetables and fruits like cantaloupes, watermelons, and pineapples.

Lo Nuevo
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