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US and Panama making progress on trade deal: USTR

Washington Post

U.S. and Panama making progress on trade deal: USTR


5 October 2006

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and Panama are making "good" progress toward a bilateral trade deal, Washington’s chief agricultural negotiator said on Thursday.

"Panama is coming around ... I think we’re making good progress on that," Richard Crowder, chief agricultural negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative told a meeting of poultry industry officials in Washington.

As in trade talks with other nations, U.S. negotiations on a possible Panama deal have gotten bogged down over farm and meat products trade issues. Talks between the two countries began in 2003.

Officials in Panama have said they’re worried about the safety of U.S. livestock. Additionally, many farmers in the central American nation oppose a deal, fearing they won’t be able to compete with American goods.

Panama’s exports to the United States were valued at $433 million in 2004 — accounting for about half of the country’s total exports. U.S. imports were around $1.8 billion, according to recent trade data.