Panama wants new trade conditions for what it considers sensitive food items
By Diego Flammini
A Central American country wants to review agricultural provisions in its trade agreement with the United States.
The Panamanian government has requested a review of the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement.
Erika Mouynes, Panama’s minister of foreign affairs, formally made the request at the U.S. Embassy in Panama on March 16. She delivered a letter addressed to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.
The trade deal, which came into force in October 2012, allows duty-free access of American pork, rice, dairy and other products to Panama through tariff rate quotas.
Panamanian officials want to review the tariff rate quotas for some of these products to support local producers.
Panama wants to “promote new trade conditions for these sensitive items, without affecting Panamanian agricultural production and the generation of employment that these items represent for our economy, mainly in rural areas of the country,” the letter says.
Prior to the official review request, U.S. officials indicated the country isn’t likely to grant Panama’s request.
The trade agreement is working as intended, said Stewart Tuttle, chargé d'affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Panama.
The trade deal “is up and running,” he told local media, Infobae, a Spanish news service, reported on March 14. “Almost all Panamanian products have entered (the U.S.) tax-free for the past 10 years.”
U.S. ag exports to Panama have increased over recent years.
In 2020, Panama brought in $695 million of U.S. farm goods.
In 2021, that dollar amount grew to $946 million, representing an increase of about 36 percent.
Farms.com has contacted Ambassador Tai and Secretary Vilsack’s offices for comment on the situation with Panama.