Panama agreement goes into effect
November 01, 2012 | 02:27 PM
Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.
There were subtle partisan differences when Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., and House Trade Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, reacted to the final implementation of the U.S.-Panama free trade agreement that went into effect on Wednesday.
Baucus noted that the FTA “will increase access to Panama’s rapidly growing economy” for U.S. businesses, farmers and ranchers.
Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich.
“This trade deal will guarantee access to Panama’s $20.6 billion services market and more than $15 billion in infrastructure projects for American and Montanan businesses, and that is the type of boost our economy needs right now,” he said.
But Baucus also noted that the agreement as finally negotiated by the Obama administration will “crack down on tax evasion and money laundering in the country.”
Camp said, “We must build off this success and continue to promote a robust and ambitious trade and investment agenda that will increase American prosperity and allow us to lead again.”
Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas
Brady noted that “We can now begin to regain the market share for U.S. goods and services lost in Panama during the years this agreement sat on the shelf.”
“While I am pleased that entry into force will occur now, finally implementing an agreement that was completed over five years ago is merely treading water,” Brady said.
“Much more work needs to be done, such as prompt completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and exploration of new market access initiatives for U.S. goods and services abroad.”
Panama is a small country, but National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson noted in a news release that it is “one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America and a crucial building block in a strategy to advance free trade within the Western hemisphere.”
Johnson added that nearly half of the tariffs on U.S. agricultural exports went to zero upon implementation, including on wheat, barley, soybeans and high-quality beef. The majority of the remaining products will have tariffs eliminated within 15 years, she said.