The United States Trade Representative has announced that the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement will enter into force next week. The announcement follows completion of a thorough review by the U.S. and Panama of their respective laws and regulations related to the implementation of the agreement. USTR Ron Kirk says Panama – under this comprehensive agreement – will eliminate tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports. He says this will promote economic growth and expand trade between the two nations. Kirk adds that Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America – expanding 10.6-percent in 2011 – with forecasts of between five and eight-percent annual growth through 2017. He says that adds up to support for more well-paying jobs across the U.S.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says Panama is an important market for America’s farmers and ranchers. The U.S. exported more than 504-million dollars of agricultural products to the country in 2011. After entry into force of the agreement on October 31st – Vilsack says nearly half of U.S. exports of agricultural commodities to Panama will immediately become duty-free – including wheat, barley, soybeans, high-quality beef, bacon and almost all fruit and vegetable products. Most of the remaining tariffs will be eliminated within 15 years.