Council Urges Members of Congress to Ratify Agreement Promptly
Washington, DC – The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) today applauded the signing of the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and called on Congress to swiftly approve the trade pact with broad bipartisan support.
“We commend U.S. and Panamanian negotiators for developing a well-crafted agreement that will increase trade and investment opportunities and expand market access for economic sectors vital to the prosperity of both nations, including services, manufacturing and agriculture,” said NFTC President Bill Reinsch. “We now call on Congress to ratify the agreement as soon as possible in the coming weeks.”
The FTA includes provisions to expand market access for U.S. farmers and ranchers through the duty-free trade of more than half of all current U.S. farm exports to Panama. Once enacted the agreement will also result in the duty-free trade of nearly 90 percent of U.S. consumer and industrial goods exports to Panama, with other tariffs being phased out over the next 10 years.
“Panama has historically been an important ally and trading partner to the United States and this agreement will help to solidify our already strong bilateral relations,” said Anne Alonzo, NFTC Senior Vice President and Co-Chair of the Hispanic Alliance for Free Trade. “Enactment of this agreement coupled with the expansion of the Panama Canal will greatly benefit the many workers and corporations that comprise the U.S. and Hispanic American business communities.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Panamanian textiles and apparel exports will be traded duty-free if they incorporate the use of U.S. or Panamanian fabric and yarn. In addition, the agreement will expand the financial services sector in Panama to increase access and investment opportunities for the United States.
The Administration and Panamanian officials began negotiating the terms of the FTA in early 2004 and concluded those talks in December 2006. In 2005, two-way trade between the United States and Panama totaled $2.5 billion.
The National Foreign Trade Council (www.nftc.org) is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in