STILL ON THE BLACKLIST
US lawmakers rally against Panama FTA
03-04-2009 | MARIJULIA PUJOL LLOYD
54 congressmen wrote a letter to Barrack Obama saying that Panama is not an appropriate FTA partner due to its tax legislation
Panama Star PANAMA. 54 democrat congressmen sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to forego the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Panama, because it has refused to sign any tax information exchange treaties.
The move was instigated by the Democrat Representative from Maine, Mike Michaud, who feels that the best way to help the ailing US economy is to oppose bilateral investment treaties and FTAs, because they could seriously damage the interests of the United States.
Michaud and his group of fellow democrat representatives said in their letter that Panama is not an appropriate FTA partner, because “a Government Accountability Office study identified it as one of only eight countries and the only current or prospective FTA partner that was listed on all of the major tax-haven watchdog lists.”
The letter added that “Panama has long been a key target of both the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and other tax transparency entities for its resistance to international norms in combating tax evasion and money laundering.”
The congressmen insisted that Panama is one of the top locations for multinational firms’ subsidiaries, many created for the sole purpose of avoiding taxes.
Traditionally Democrats in the US Congress and Senate have been against FTA preferring to take a more cautious approach than the Republicans, who are more liberal in trade matters.
The letter could have a devastating effect for Panama’s hopes of having its FTA ratified by the Congress and Senate, bearing in mind that the Democrats have the majority in both houses.
The First Vice-President of Panama and Foreign Affairs Minister, Samuel Lewis Navarro said that when the FTA goes before Congress to be ratified, he hopes that it will have the support of the representatives.
Talking about the letter Navarro said that there are more than 400 representatives and the FTA benefits not only the United States, but also Panama, “so we expect that when it comes for consideration by Congress it will receive a majority support.”
However it will depend on the dynamic of US politics, because the rest of the process has been completed and the treaty only awaits ratification.
The 2009 Trade Policy Agenda of President Obama said the government is hoping to move the Panama FTA quickly, but it does not give a timeline for its ratification.