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Blog Entries from May 17, 2013

Acting Secretary Blank Highlights Success of the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement

De. Blank seated at speakers' table at AmCham Panama

Exports are critical to supporting American jobs and helping U.S. businesses grow.  Increasing international trade is one of the Commerce Department’s top priorities.  U.S. Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank wraps up her week-long Latin American trade mission in Panama this week which highlighted the importance of the bilateral trade relationship between the two countries. In her remarks before the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) Panama today, Acting Secretary Blank marked the success of the U.S. Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA), which went into effect on October 31, 2012 and is a key component to increasing bilateral trade between the two countries.

Panama’s economy has seen double-digit growth over the past two years and continues to be a critical market for U.S. exporters. Between 2011 and 2012, the total volume of trade between the United States and Panama grew 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 seven percent, with some tariffs reaching 81 percent.

Panama Canal Expansion Offers Opportunity for U.S. Companies to Serve as Partners with Panama

Dr. Blank seated at control panel of Panama Canal

As a part of her trade mission to Brazil, Colombia, and Panama this week, Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank met today with Jorge Quijano, Panama Canal 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 aim to strengthen longstanding U.S.-Panama ties by promoting greater cooperation between the two countries on infrastructure development.

Panama is a longstanding friend and ally to the United States, and the country’s strategic location as a major shipping route makes it an important economic partner as well. The Panama Canal currently handles five percent of the world’s trade, and approximately two-thirds of the Canal’s annual transits are bound to or from ports in the United States.

In order to allow greater container capacity, the Panama Canal Authority has decided to invest over $5 billion to expand the Canal. The expanded Canal will accommodate larger vessels that cannot transit now, introducing a new line of business that Panama projects will gradually increase annual profits to $3 billion.