Vice Minister Francisco Alvarez de Soto Speaks on the Positive Impact of the U.S.-Panama FTA

Thursday, May 19, 2011 - 13:36

Release Date: May 19, 2011

Vice Minister Francisco Alvarez de Soto Speaks on the Positive Impact of the U.S.-Panama FTA

“Amcham members were very pleased at the presentation by Vice Minister Alvarez de Soto, who emphasized that no country signs a free trade agreement if it is not beneficial to both. Mr. Alvarez de Soto was very specific as to the advantages of the FTA for our country, and pointed out that Panama’s trade balance with our respective partners is positive, when you take into account the services sector.”

C.E. Maurice Bélanger
Executive Director
The American Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Panama

Panama City, Panama—AmCham Panama hosted a breakfast yesterday at the Hotel Continental Panama at which Vice Minister of International Commercial Negotiations, Francisco Alvarez de Soto spoke to approximately 80 attendees on the positive impact of the U.S.- Panama Free Trade Agreement will have on Panama’s economic growth. Lic. Alexis Pineda, National Director of the Administration of International Commercial Treaties and Commercial Defense of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Republic of Panama, was co-speaker at the event.

Sponsors of the event were: Patton, Moreno & Asvat; Semusa; Canon Panama; Alfaro, Ferrer & Ramirez; and ABB. In attendance were AmCham Panama’s President, Juan Carlos Arias; Senior Commercial Officer of the U.S. Embassy, Daniel Crocker; AmCham Board members Bob Baker and Luis Laguerre; and AmCham Panama’s Executive Director, C.E. Maurice Belanger. Members of the press present included La Prensa, La Estrella, The Visitor, Mundo Social and Selecta.

In his speech, Vice Minister Alvarez de Soto stated that the FTA with the United States was imperative to Panama’s continued economic growth. The U.S. is Panama’s principal commercial partner, with a market 100 times greater than that of Panama. In fact, nearly 30% of Panama’s exports in 2010 were to the United States. He goes on to state that the U.S.-Panama FTA would help Panama maintain its competitive position as a player in the U.S. market versus other countries such as Mexico, Chile, Peru and others in Central America. The Vice Minister predicted that with the ratification of the U.S.-Panama FTA, U.S. foreign direct investment in Panama has a great potential for growth. According to the Vice Minister, the U.S. is already the leading foreign investor in Panama’s economy.

Other countries have seen an increase in U.S. foreign direct investment due to such trade agreements as CAFTA. The Vice Minister maintained that In order for Panama to maintain its competitive edge regarding foreign direct investment the FTA with the U.S. must be signed.

The Vice Minister went on to say that the U.S. is already a large importer of services from Panama with respect to industries such as transportation, travel, communications and financial services. Hence, the U.S.- Panama Free Trade Agreement benefits not only the United States, but represents a win-win for both countries and strengthens bi-lateral commercial relations.

The U.S.-Panama FTA will consolidate and grow businesses, level the playing field by removing barriers to trade, eliminate subsidies on agricultural exports to the U.S., establish rules and regulations regarding customs, apply standardized technical, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and put in place mechanisms to protect Panama’s local service and goods markets from abuse, especially Panama’s agricultural and financial service industries.

In concluding his presentation, Vice Minister Alvarez de Soto offered the services of his negotiation experts of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to any company seeking advice regarding the putting the free trade agreement into practice and taking full advantage of the benefits the FTA will offer. AmCham Panama members are welcome to go to the website and click on the tab “Negociones Comerciales” to follow the progress of the U.S.-Panama FTA ratification process.