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Panama and Israel expect to finish negotiating FTA in coming months | 6/5/2014

Panama and Israel expect to finish negotiating FTA in coming months

After the visit of the President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, to Israel on Thursday, the two governments said they would have a free trade agreement (FTA - also known in Spanish as Tratado de Libre Comercio, TLC) within a couple of months.

"I am convinced that the relations between Israel and Panama will continue to develop," said Martinelli referring to the upcoming change in government in the Central American country. He also stated that the FTA with Israel "will be ready in a couple of months."

The first round of negotiations for a new trade agreement took place in Jerusalem, Israel, and concluded on May 14. In this round the technical teams progressed on issues such as market access, rules of origin, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, services, investment, settlement of commercial disputes and rules for the document.

In the open meeting between Martinelli and his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres, the leaders stressed the momentum that the bilateral relations between both countries have had in recent years and discussed aspects of the new trade agreement.

According to Peres, there is potential space for the development of bilateral trade relations, mainly because "Panama is importing modern technologies and equipment," a quintessential Israeli industry.

Meanwhile, the Panamanian president said they were willing to continue working to bridge the gap between both countries, and highlighted Panama’s strategic position and logistics platform to establish concrete links between countries.

"It seems important that the Israeli airline El Al explores the possibility of direct flights from Tel Aviv to Panama," said Martinelli. That situation would support the Panamanian interest in strengthening the tourism and business sector, which would make Panama a regional hub for operations.

The new trade agreement, which would expand the economic and trade cooperation treaty signed by both countries in 2010, could strengthen Panamanian purchases in the business, innovation and technology sectors.

Panama could also increase its exports of products such as papaya, coffee, coconut, and especially pineapple, among others.

According to Shatz Ilan, president of the Panamanian-Israeli Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (Cciapi), Israel could become the gateway to the Middle East for the export of agricultural products.

 source: Marcotradenews