12 December 2006
Panama, US To Restart Free Trade Agreement Talks Friday
By Matthew Cowley, Dow Jones Newswires
NEW YORK — (Dow Jones) — Panama’s government will restart free trade talks with the U.S. on Friday, seeking an important tool to combat poverty, Panama President Martin Torrijos said Tuesday.
"Exporting industrial, agricultural and services products to a market such as the U.S. offers a great advantage that I am sure we are going to value and utilize," Torrijos said, according to a statement published on the president’s Web site.
Panama’s negotiating team will be led by Trade and Industry Minister Alejandro Ferrer, the statement said.
A spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative on Tuesday confirmed that the trade talks will resume Friday.
The talks, which have been on hold for nearly a year, will restart in the 10th round of negotiations to be held in Washington, the Panama president’s Web site said in a separate statement published Monday.
The meeting will aim to "restart formal negotiations so that we can continue advancing on the process that allows Panama to have the best free trade agreement possible," Ferrer said in the statement.
Panama had hoped to conclude the talks last January, but that timetable was dashed after the U.S. asked for a re-examination of food sanitary rules that had already been agreed upon. The U.S. wanted Panama to be more flexible in its application of strict sanitary rules.