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.
The reduction in tariffs makes it easier for U.S. exporters to access the Panamanian market. In the first five months after the TPA was implemented, U.S. exports to Panama increased 20 percent compared to the same period the previous year. This increased market access has been beneficial to Panama, too, with Panama’s exports to the United States jumping 34 percent during the same period.
Acting Secretary Blank also met today with Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli and Minister of Commerce Ricardo Quijano to thank them for their support in a successful implementation of the TPA and for supporting U.S. investment in Panama.
The Commerce Department is committed to continuing to work with the United States’ trade partners to create further opportunities for growth and development.
For more information about the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement, visit http://trade.gov/press/press-releases/2013/panama-factsheet-051713.pdf .