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Colombia anticipates free trade deal with Panama in weeks

Xinhua, China

Colombia anticipates free trade deal with Panama in weeks

23 January 2010

Visiting Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said Friday that his government is working on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Panama, which could be reached "in a few weeks."

"We have all the enthusiasm to achieve in a few weeks the FTA with Panama," Uribe said at a regional business conference.

Uribe added that his country has been signing trade agreements with many countries, which has boosted its foreign trade and benefited its economy.

A free trade deal is expected to greatly enhance commercial links between Colombia and Panama. Their two-way trade generated some 185 million U.S. dollars annually.

Uribe also called for more efforts to finish the Colombia-Panama section of the Pan-American highway.

An 87-km stretch of rainforest between the borders of Colombia and Panama has been a controversial part of the ambitious highway.

Many groups and environmentalists have been against completing the section between Panama’s Darien Province and the Darien Gap on the Colombian border.

They believed a road link will destroy the rainforest in the area, disrupt the lives of indigenous peoples and lead to rampant drug trafficking.