Mexico, Panama finish free-trade talks

Wall Street Journal | March 24, 2014

Mexico, Panama finish free-trade talks
Agreement likely to increase bilateral tourism, investment

By ANTHONY HARRUP

MEXICO CITY—Mexico and Panama have finished negotiating a free-trade agreement, which the two governments expect to go into effect once it is approved by their respective legislatures.

The document was signed Monday by Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and Panamanian Trade and Industry Minister Ricardo Quijano during a visit to Mexico by Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli. During the visit Mr. Martinelli met with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.

Mr. Peña Nieto called the trade pact "another significant step toward Panama’s future participation in the Pacific Alliance, an inclusion which Mexico supports." The Pacific Alliance is a trade bloc that includes Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru.

Mr. Martinelli said that aside from the trade benefits, the agreement is likely to increase bilateral tourism and investment. He said Panama has included Mexico among countries for which it will speed up immigration permits to facilitate business and investment.

Trade between Mexico and Panama totaled $1.1 billion in 2013, almost entirely due to Mexican exports to Panama. Mexican direct investment in Panama stands at $2.1 billion in industries such as construction, telecommunications, food and beverages and electronics, while Panamanian investments in Mexico are just less than $900 million in services and manufacturing, according to the Mexican government.

While nearly two-thirds of Mexico’s $760 billion in annual trade is with the U.S., Mexico has free-trade agreements with 45 countries, including the U.S., Canada, the European Union, Japan and Central America.

Corrections & Amplifications

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said its new trade pact with Panama was "another significant step toward Panama’s future participation in the Pacific Alliance, an inclusion which Mexico supports." An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that Mr. Peña Nieto said that the pact was an important step toward Panama’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

source: Wall St Journal