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Sunday, September 23 2018 @ 09:54 PM UTC

Panama Has "Issues" To Resolve Before FTA Can Pass

Foreign Direct Investment By EDITH CASTILLO DUARTE for La Prensa - Panama has issues that have to be resolved before the bilateral Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Panama will be debated before the US Congress. This, according to the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives of the United States, Charles Rangel, who said through a press release "there are pending questions that must be addressed and actions that must be adopted by Panama before the Congress will consider the Free Trade Agreement," and among these he mentioned specific actions, that Panama must respond to the International Labor Organization and to tax regulations in the banking sector. These issues, says Rangel, have been discussed with the Panamanian Government and Panama's ambassador in Washington, Federico Humbert. (more) (See Comments)

Editor's Comment: The US government is not going ratify the bilateral Free Trade Agreement between Panama and the United States until after the upcoming national general elections in Panama, which will be held on 3 May 2009, in exactly one month. Representatives from the administration of Panamanian President Martin Torrijos went to Washington to discuss the issue with the administration of Barack Obama, and they were told that the administration is doing all they can to get the FTA passed as soon as possible. Specifically, the Panamanian delegation wanted the FTA passed before the end of June 2009, in order for Martin Torrijos to be able to claim "credit" for the FTA. Remember, negotiations for this FTA started under the administration of Mireya Moscoso, and the passage was held up (initially) thanks to the election of Pedro Miguel Gonzalez as the President of Panama's National Assembly. Once that issue went away, the FTA remained stuck due to domestic political concerns in the United States and the national elections last November. Now, it's being held up due to Panamanian political concerns - the US Congress and specifically Charles Rangel, does not want to give a "win" to the PRD and Balbina Herrera with the passage of the FTA right now. They can wait until after the election and then schedule the debate and vote. It will pass in minutes once that happens. This is more a "screw Balbina" action than anything else. And you can bet a bag of donuts that the Panamanian delegation in Panama said something like "OK, we get that, but can you get it passed after May 3 and before the inauguration of Ricardo Martinelli, at the very least?"

(Comments End, Article Continues)

The government of Barack Obama issued a report this month in which the administration promises complete the bilateral Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Panama "relatively quickly" and before the FTA with Colombia.

After the meetings held last week between authorities from both countries, it was hoped that the Free Trade Agreement could be ratified by the US Congress before June of this year.

This is why Rangel hopes Panama “takes action quickly" on these subjects.

When consulted on the matter, Panama's Minister of Commerce and Industry, Gisela Porras, declined to make a statement until she knows the context in which Rangel's statements occurred.

The international controversy which has erupted surrounding the "black list" of financial and banking secrecy centers, which includes Panama, was the subject of discussion yesterday within the framework of the Annual Conference of Business Executives (CADE 2009) and during his speech the former Vice Minister of the Economy, Domingo Latorraca, talked about Rangel's statements, and said the two subjects should not be mixed.

He recommended Panama should "not entrench” and to analyze a strategy that allows the country to take steps in matters of international cooperation if it wants to stay competitive.

On the other hand, the president of the Banking Association, Moisés Cohen, said Panama should not be described as an offshore tax haven and that he does not find disadvantages with regards to the FTA and the issues of banking confidentiality, because there is a treaty of mutual legal assistance that allows Panama to exchange information with the Untied States.

REPRESENTANTE DEL GOBIERNO DE ESTADOS UNIDOS SE MANIFIESTA

Panamá tiene temas que resolver en TPC Para que el tratado comercial llegue al Congreso, se deben resolver asuntos laborales, fiscales y de regulación bancaria.

confidencialidad bancaria. Panamá enfrenta amenazas externas por aspectos tributarios.

LA PRENSA/Jorge Fernández EDITH CASTILLO DUARTE ecastillo@prensa.com

Panamá tiene temas que resolver antes de que el tratado de protección comercial (TPC) que adelanta con Estados Unidos (EU) entre en discusión en el Congreso de ese país.

Así lo advirtió el presidente del Comité de Medios y Arbitreos de la Cámara de Representantes de EU, Charles Rangel, a través de un comunicado de prensa, en el que manifiesta que “hay cuestiones pendientes que deben abordarse y acciones que deben ser adoptadas por Panamá antes de que el Congreso considere el TPC” y entre estos menciona acciones específicas que el país debe responder a la Organización Internacional del Trabajo y regulaciones de impuestos y en el sector bancario.

Estos puntos, aseguró Rangel, han sido discutidos con el Gobierno panameño y el embajador de Panamá en Washington, Federico Humbert.

El gobierno de Barack Obama emitió a principio de mes un informe en que promete tramitar el TPC con Panamá “con relativa rapidez” e inclusive antes que el tratado pendiente con Colombia. Luego de unas reuniones realizadas la semana pasada entre autoridades de ambos países, se dejó entrever que antes de junio este tratado podría ser ratificado por el Congreso estadounidense.

Es por ello que Rangel espera que Panamá “tome acciones en breve”, sobre estos temas.

Consultada al respecto, la ministra de Comercio e Industrias, Gisela Porras, prefirió no hacer comentarios hasta tanto tenga conocimiento del marco en que se dieron estas declaraciones.

La controversia internacional que hay en torno a las “listas negras” de paraísos fiscales, en las que se incluye a Panamá, fue tema de discusión ayer en el marco de la Conferencia Anual de Ejecutivos de Empresa (CADE 2009) y durante su intervención el ex viceministro de Economía Domingo Latorraca se refirió a las declaraciones de Rangel, y dijo que no se deben mezclar los dos asuntos.

Recomendó no “atrincherarse” y analizar una estrategia que le permita al país dar pasos en materia de cooperación internacional, si quiere mantenerse competitivo.

Por su parte, el presidente de la Asociación Bancaria, Moisés Cohen, resaltó que Panamá no debe ser calificado como paraíso fiscal y que no encuentra inconvenientes con respecto al TPC y la confidencialidad bancaria, porque está en vigencia el tratado de asistencia legal mutua que le permite al país intercambio de información con Estados Unidos.

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