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Saturday, April 19 2014 @ 11:22 PM EDT

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Chile Deps Pass Panama Trade Deal

Money Matters Santiago de Chile, Jul 4 (Prensa Latina) Chilean Foreign Minister Alejandro Foxley highlighted on Wednesday the importance of a Free Trade Agreement with Panama, approved by the Chamber of Deputies of Chile, with 87 votes in favour, 2 against, and 7 abstentions. The minister recalled that with this FTA, which will now begin its last approval phase in the Senate, Chile completes a large trade association network with Latin American countries. Panama constitutes the first with a South American nation. "A door of opportunity has been opened to our exporters. We will celebrate in 10 or 20 years this step in the framework of the integration of the Latin American Pacific," added Foxley. Chile is the Panama Canal s fourth-largest user in the world. The agreements include the elimination of the 5 percent duties of traditional exports, such as copper, allowing that strategic Chilean sector to compete in Panama.
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U.S., Panama Sign Free-Trade Pact

Money Matters Truth About Trade.org - New York - The U.S. and Panama signed a free-trade agreement Thursday that will eliminate tariffs on almost 90% of U.S. consumer and industrial exports to the Central American nation, the U.S. Trade Representative said. The signing of the FTA comes at a crucial time, as the Bush administration's Trade Promotion Authority expires Sunday. The so-called fast-track authority allows Congress to vote up or down on trade deals but not amend them. Any agreements signed before this weekend's end date will still be considered under the fast-track authority. The U.S. and Panama started FTA negotiations in April 2004. Total bilateral trade between the two countries totaled $3.1 billion in 2006, according to the USTR. Panama already has "broad duty free-access" to the U.S. because of several programs such as the Generalized System of Preferences for developing countries, the USTR said. However, only a quarter of U.S. industrial exports and 34% of agricultural exports entered Panama duty-free in 2006. (more)
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IMF's Portugal: CentAm, Panama, Dom Rep Need Poverty Policies

Money Matters By Matthew Cowley for Dow Jones Newswires - Governments in Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic need macroeconomic policies that will share more widely the benefits of growth and reduce poverty, which would help broaden support for continued market-oriented reforms, according to a senior International Monetary Fund official. "I'm convinced that, in the region, this will require additional well-targeted social spending and, naturally, in parallel with it, further increase in tax revenue," said Murilo Portugal, a deputy managing director at the International Monetary Fund, in a statement published Monday on the IMF web site. Economic growth rates "are not yet where we would all like them to be" and poverty levels "remain way too high," he said. Latin America critics of market-oriented reforms, such as Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, have made political gains in the region in recent years. Supporters of such reforms fear a broader political backlash could unravel some of the gains unless more is done to distribute wealth. (more)
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U.S. Grains Council Expresses Pleasure with U.S.-Panama Free Trade Signing

Money Matters GrainNet.com - Washington, DC -- (Statement by Kevin Natz, U.S. Grains Council Director of Trade Policy, pertaining to U.S.-Panama free trade signing.) "The U.S. Grains Council is certainly pleased with the signing of the Panama Trade Promotion Agreement. It's a definite win for U.S. producers. Upon implementation, tariff elimination under a nearly 300,000 ton (11.8 million bushel) corn tariff rate quota will grow three percent per year compounded, allowing the United States to capture overall demand growth in this market. "The Council applauds our negotiators for successfully establishing an agreement with the Panamanians to immediately eliminate its domestic absorption scheme that in the past has increased the overall costs to the feed and livestock industries and hampered efficient trade. "Eliminating those requirements in Latin America has been a long-standing objective of the Councils. "This agreement will complement the Central American Free Trade Agreement in expanding trade opportunities for U.S. feed grain exports to the region. "And with the potential addition of free trade agreements with the Andean countries of Colombia and Peru, the U.S. ultimately will broaden market access for U.S. feed grains to over two-thirds of the population in the Western Hemisphere. "U.S. feed grains win in a free trade environment and we are pleased with this step in the right direction," concluded Kevin Natz USGC director of trade policy. For more information, call 202-789-0789.
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Democrats delay vote on trade deals

Money Matters Bloomberg News - Democratic leaders in Congress put off a vote on trade agreements with Peru and Panama until those countries revamp their laws to comply with new labor and environment standards in the accords. The demand is a blow to the Bush administration, which pressed the Democratic majority in Congress to approve the Peru agreement next month. Instead, Rep. Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, will lead a delegation of lawmakers to those countries in August to help them with the changes, Democrats said. "We are hopeful that this trip will lead to the swift passage this fall in Peru and Panama of the necessary legislation to change laws and implement fully the respective agreements," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rangel and other Democratic leaders said in a joint statement Friday.
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Panama expects WTO judgment against EU banana import tariff

Money Matters By Jahir Lombana for Freshplaza.com - Barranquilla - Alejandro Ferrer, Minister of Trade and Industry from Panama hopes that the WTO decides against the EU to reduce the current tariff of 176 euros/ton that third countries pay in order to access the EU market. Panama joined Ecuador in the demand against the EU before the WTO. In August 2006, Panama and 8 other countries were favoured by the decision of the WTO; however the EU continued to apply a tariff of 176 euros/ton. This time, the Panamanian government expects a lower tariff which is backed by firms based in Panama such as Chiquita. Virgilio Aizpurúa, representative of this company in Panama considered adequate the measurement in order to free the market and protect 9000 direct jobs derived of the activity in Panama and endangered with the EU regime. Panamanian exports of bananas for the first semester accounted for US$50 million, 13% more than the same period in 2006.
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United States and Panama Sign Trade Promotion Agreement

Money Matters (USTR) WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab and Panamanian Minister of Commerce and Industry Alejandro Ferrer today signed the United States – Panama Trade Promotion Agreement, a comprehensive trade agreement that will eliminate tariffs and other barriers to the trade in goods and services between the United States and Panama. “Today’s signing marks the beginning of a new era in the long-standing, yet still evolving commercial partnership between the United States and Panama. This is an historic agreement between two countries that for over a century have been joined by bonds of shared values, community, and friendship,” said Ambassador Schwab. “This agreement includes important commitments on market access as well as ground-breaking labor and environment provisions, a result of the bipartisan agreement between the Bush Administration and Congressional leadership. This agreement will promote increased economic growth and prosperity for both of our nations and will generate significant economic opportunities for U.S. workers, consumers, manufacturers, farmers and ranchers by leveling the playing field for U.S. exports to Panama. In turn, the agreement will serve as a catalyst to further develop and diversify Panama’s economy and promote investment between the two countries.” (more) (Photo: Ambassador Susan C. Schwab, United States Trade Representative)
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Panama Aims to Become Regional Leader in Diamond Trade

Money Matters By Leah Granof for Diamonds.net RAPAPORT - Entrepreneurs from the Panama Diamond Exchange Project have applied for membership in the World Federation of Diamond Bourses in a bid to become regional leaders in the Central and South American markets. The not-yet operational exchange hopes to represent 23 countries in Latin America and 30 surrounding islands accounting for a $2.5 billion market, according to Erez Ackerman, managing director of the Exchange. The Exchange is in the process of building a 48-story building in the financial district of Panama City. Intended to be a fully modern bourse, the structure will include a trading hall, gemological laboratory, various banks and a heliport on the roof. The Panamanian government has agreed to declare the geographic area of the exchange a “free zone” in which neither exports nor imports will be taxed. Foreigners will also receive benefits such as 25 years of tax free real-estate and legal residency. The exchange will open with 250 members, with half representing local diamantaires and the other half consisting of international companies. Drawing upon the 700 million residents and the 11,500 jewelry stores in the region, project directors hope to double the amount of trade in the next five years. Leaders are already in discussions with the governments of Brazil, Guyana, and Venezuela to obtain rough supplies of diamonds, Ackerman said. With the support of the WFDB and the Panama's government, the project directors expect to be operational by the WFDB Conference in Shanghai scheduled for May 2008. Other bourses, which have applied for WFDB membership include Australia, Canada, and the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.
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Panama's Gross Domestic Product Up 9.4% in First Quarter

Money Matters By Víctor D. Torres for La Prensa - Panama's Gross Domestic Product grew at a quarterly rate of 9.4%, making Panama one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. Official calculations of the Direction of Statistics and Census (DEC) of the Contraloría indicate that the GDP, valued against benchmark 1996 prices, came in at $3.981 billion dollars, representing an increase of $340.5 million dollars in comparison to the first trimester of 2006. Sectors with the best growth that contributed to the GDP were banking and financial activities, housing construction, wholesale commerce, and the transportation of materials over ground.
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Sixth Annual Regional Conference on Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic

Money Matters International Monetary Fund - Central American Monetary Council, Committee of Finance Ministers, and International Monetary Fund Hosted by the Central Bank of Costa Rica, San José, Costa Rica. June 28–29, 2007 - The conference brings together senior policymakers from Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic (ministers of finance, central bank governors, and financial sector superintendents) to discuss issues that are either common across countries or directly related to regional integration. This year's conference will review the advances of two major regional projects. One focuses on consolidated supervision of regional financial conglomerates and is spearheaded by the Council of Superintendents of Banks and Other Financial Institutions; the other is led by the Committee of Finance Ministers and addresses issues of fiscal coordination including those related to the establishment of a Central America customs union. In addition, conference participants will discuss issues related to the development of equity and private debt markets and fiscal policies to support economic and social stability. The objective of the conference is to foster the frank exchange of information and to identify practical policy solutions. It is not open to the public, but concludes with a press conference.
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