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PANAMANIAN BUSINESSMEN WILLING TO NEGOTIATE FTA with CHINA

Viewed 1376 times 2018-9-5 00:31 |System category:Economy| CHINA, PANAMA, BUSINESS

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The Panamanian businessmen affirmed today that they would wait "as long as necessary" for Panama to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with China that guarantees the interests of the Central American country.

"While a trade agreement with China is very important, it is even more fair and just for Panama," the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture of Panama (CCIAP) said in a statement.

The president of the Chamber, Gabriel Barletta, said that "under this scheme, the interest of the union in that these negotiations are developed with great care obeys both to the experience lived by other countries in relation to this matter, as well as the need to visualize the tools that are necessary to be able to get the most out of this agreement with the Asian giant."

"We have listened to our membership, we are representing their different positions and taking advantage of the opportunities that arise from this relationship between both countries," he said.

The business leader pointed out that the Chamber's team works "closely" with the government that commands the Ministry of Commerce and Industries (MICI).

"This joint work seeks to carry out a thorough negotiation, in which the best interests of the sectors that may be impacted are defended, so we are being very cautious and we do not seek to rush the process, we are aware of the current environment and will negotiate as long as necessary," he said.

He specified that both teams believe there is consensus that Panama "is in a good position to continue advancing in the next round,
scheduled for October, always in consultation and interaction with the productive sectors of the country."

On August 28, Panama and China concluded the second round of negotiations for signing an FTA and have already agreed, among other issues, that the Central American country can withdraw any Chinese product that does not meet its sanitary standards, according to MICI.

It explained that the delegations meeting in Beijing between August 20 and 24 approved that "Panama retains its sovereignty in the matter, with the power to review and withdraw any import that does not comply with the provisions of the country's sanitary legal framework."

The parties, however, have not yet reached an agreement on the so-called "trade defense measures", whose main objective is to protect the Panamanian market against low-cost imports, nor about which specific products will have access to the markets of each country, the ministry said 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, and the third round will be held in Panama from October 9 to 13, the institution indicated.

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

 The Asian country is the first supplier of the Colón Free Zone (ZLC), the largest free zone in the hemisphere, located in the Panamanian Caribbean, and the second user of the Panama Canal, through which about 6 percent of world trade passes, after the USA.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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