Colombia and Panama Initiate Fifth Round of Negotiations on FTA
By Dialogo October 27, 2010
The fifth round of negotiations on the signing of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Colombia and Panama began in the Panamanian capital on 25 October, official sources reported.
“The fifth round began this morning at a hotel and will last until Friday [29 October],” an official source told AFP.
In order to conclude the negotiations, both sides will have to resolve stumbling-blocks such as access to markets for agricultural and industrial products and the treatment of the Panamanian foreign-trade zone.
“We don’t have to hurry or be in a rush; we should take steps with a view to the long term,” Manuel Fernández, president of the Panamanian Association of Exporters, said in the daily La Prensa.
Panamanian producers of beef, pork, milk, and corn continue to take the position of asking for the exclusion of these sectors, while the Panamanian textile sector has also expressed its fear of an opening of the market, due to the asymmetries between the economies of the two countries.
For its part, Colombian business believes that part of the smuggling that disadvantages its producers comes from the foreign-trade zone of the Panamanian city of Colón.
Rules of origin, animal and plant health measures, and government purchases are other points that remain to be resolved before signing the agreement.
Colombia and Panama began negotiations on the treaty at the beginning of 2010, with the expectation that it would require a maximum of four rounds.
In 2009, Colombia exported 258.3 million dollars in goods to Panama, while imports from that country amounted to 15.7 million dollars.