"The U.S. relationship with Panama and other Central American countries, has never been more important."
"The U.S. relationship with Panama and other Central American countries," said U.S. Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank during a recent Trade Mission to Panama, "has never been more important."
Acting Secretary Blank described how, over the last six years, U.S. exports to Central America and imports from Central America have nearly doubled. This broad-based economic growth helps to solidify the political and social gains Central America has achieved over the last two decades.
The United States and Panama have a shared history and strong relationship built on common values such as democracy and human rights. Trade is also a crucial component of our relationship. Panama’s role in global trade due to its geographic location and the Panama Canal makes the country important to U.S. prosperity and security.
The six-month-old Trade Promotion Agreement between the United States and Panama that entered into force on October 31, 2012, is already fulfilling its promises. The agreement reduces red tape and other barriers to trade, presentingnew opportunities for small businesses. It also fosters business investment and protection of intellectual property rights.
U.S. goods exported to Panama in the first five months since entry into force have jumped 20 percent compared to the previous period. And although Panama's exports to the United States are still comparatively small, they have increased by 34 percent in the past year. The two-way trade between Panama and the United States is now more than $10 billion a year, more than five times higher than it was just a decade ago.
The agreement opens doors for U.S. businesses that want to take part in the $15 billion worth of infrastructure projects Panama has announced, including mass transit, airport expansion, highways and roads, and water supply and sanitation. Panama is also in the midst of a $5 billion project to expand the Panama Canal.
The U.S. private sector sees new opportunity in Panama’s economic growth. The U.S. government is working with Panama to create the right conditions for growth to continue. For example, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation is helping with projects that include micro-lending for small businesses and financing for a mobile phone network.
As the commercial relationship between Panama and the United States continues to expand, the economic futures of both countries will become even more intertwined, helping to grow the middle class and bring prosperity to citizens in both countries.