Statement by Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns Regarding U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement Negotiations
Dec. 19, 2006
"I applaud the hard work of the U.S. and Panamanian negotiators who today concluded free trade agreement negotiations that will open new export opportunities for our agricultural industry.
"In 2005, U.S. agricultural producers sold some $200 million worth of products to Panama. Under this agreement, more than half of all current U.S. farm exports to Panama will become duty-free immediately, including high quality beef, mechanically de-boned chicken, turkey, pork variety meats, whey, soybeans, crude vegetable oils, cotton, wheat, barley, most fresh fruits, almonds, walnuts and many processed foods such as soups, chocolate confectionary, distilled spirits, wines and pet food. U.S. farmers will also benefit from expanded market access through tariff-rate quotas on pork, chicken leg quarters, dairy products, corn, rice, refined corn oil, dried beans, frozen French fries and tomato products. Tariffs on most remaining U.S. farm products will be phased out within 15 years.
"Most significant for U.S. beef and poultry producers, Panama is revising its sanitary and phytosanitary regulations recognizing the equivalence of the U.S. food safety inspection system for meat, poultry and processed food products. Panama will also provide market access for U.S. beef and poultry products consistent with international standards and recognize the U.S. beef grading system. In addition, this agreement streamlines import documentation requirements for U.S. processed foods.
"Expanding access to the Panamanian market and increasing our two-way trade will strengthen our economic ties and promote increased stability in the Western Hemisphere. I look forward to working with U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab and the U.S. Congress to secure passage of this important agreement."