Rebecca Blank, U.S. acting commerce secretary, has wrapped up her week-long Latin America trade mission in Panama, which highlighted the importance of the U.S.-Panama bilateral trade relationship.
In her remarks before the American Chamber of Commerce Panama, Blank marked the success of the U.S. Panama Trade Promotion Agreement, which went into effect on Oct. 31, 2012.
Panama’s economy has seen double-digit growth over the past two years and continues to be a critical market for U.S. exporters, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Between 2011 and 2012, the total volume of trade between the U.S. and Panama rose by 21 percent, reaching a total of $10.5 billion. With the implementation of the TPA, more than 87 percent of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial exports immediately became duty-free. Prior to the TPA implementation, Panama’s average tariff rate on U.S. industrial goods was higher than 7 percent, with some tariffs reaching 81 percent.
Furthermore, in the first five months after the TPA was implemented, U.S. exports to Panama increased 20 percent compared to the same period the previous year, while Panama’s exports to the U.S. jumped 34 percent during the same period.
Additionally, during her mission, Blank met with Jorge Quijano, Panama Canal’s administrator, and Roberto Roy, president of the Panama Canal board and the Panama City subway, to discuss the Panama Canal Expansion Project and infrastructure spending related to Panama City’s Metro Rail Project. These meetings reflected increasing opportunity for U.S. firms to support Panama in these efforts by providing technology, engineering and design and project management backup.