February 27, 2021

Panama and China to the third round of free trade agreement negotiations

Panama and China to the third round of free trade agreement negotiations



Panama and China will begin this Tuesday in the Panamanian capital the third round of negotiations for the signing of a free trade agreement (FTA), one year and four months after having entered into diplomatic relations.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MICI) of Panama explained today that the delegations of both countries will discuss during this new stage essential aspects such as trade barriers, customs procedures, intellectual property or electronic commerce.

"We reached the third round after two intense rounds in which the negotiating teams have managed to agree on important aspects, both in form and substance," said Minister of Commerce and Industry Augusto Arosemena in a statement.

The governments of both countries officially launched negotiations on June 12 at a ceremony in Beijing, coinciding with the first anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Panama decided in June 2017 to break with Taiwan and recognize the principle of "one China", thus becoming the second Central American country, after Costa Rica, to establish diplomatic relations with the Asian giant.

The diplomatic turn of Panama and other countries in the region, such as the Dominican Republic and El Salvador, caused the government of US President Donald Trump to call his diplomatic representatives in those countries for consultations on August 7.

Panama and China already had an important trade exchange before establishing diplomatic relations, but it is expected a remarkable growth after the FTA.

Last year, Panama imported goods and services from China worth 1,344 million dollars and exported products worth 42.6 million dollars, including coffee, cattle skins and fishmeal, according to official data.

The Asian country is the first supplier of the Colon Free Zone, the largest free zone in the hemisphere, located in the Panamanian Caribbean, and the second most important user of the Panama Canal, through which passes about 6 percent of trade world, after the United States.

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