The Canadian Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, Ed Fast, introduced the Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act to parliament on November 15.
This followed a commitment made in June 2011 for the Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act and the Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act implementing both free trade agreements. Minister Fast was joined by the ambassadors of Panama and Jorfan, Francisco Carlo Escobar Pedreschi and Basheer Fawwaz Zoubi, when he introduced the act.
Canada and Panama launched free trade negotiations in October 2008. Following several rounds of talks, on August 11, 2009, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli marked the conclusion of negotiations on a historic free trade deal as well as new agreements on labor and environmental cooperation. On May 14, 2010, Canada’s then international trade minister Peter Van Loan, along with Panama’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Roberto Henríquez, signed the Canada-Panama Free Trade Agreement as well as the parallel agreements on labor cooperation and the environment.
In 2010, bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Panama totalled $213.7 million. “Strengthening the financial security of Canadians, creating new jobs and promoting economic growth through deepened trade are my top priorities,” said Minister Fast when presenting the agreement to parliament. “Free trade agreements with Jordan and Panama are a key part of our government’s job-creating, pro-trade plan to protect and increase the prosperity of hard-working Canadians,” he added.
“Free trade agreements also bring real benefits to Canadian farmers and our entire agriculture industry,” said Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board.
“These trade agreements will open markets and create new opportunities for our farmers to boost their bottom lines.”
“Implementation of the Canada-Panama Economic Growth and Prosperity Act will eliminate tariffs on over 99 percent of Canadian non-agriculture exports, again directly benefiting Canadian exporters and workers through duty-free access to Panama’s markets.
“Other benefits of the agreement include investment provisions, which will increase protection, transparency and security for Canadian investors in Panama. In addition, the agreement will secure access to the government procurement market, including the $5.4-billion expansion of the Panama Canal and other infrastructure projects,” said a Canadian government press release.
“The implementation of these two agreements will improve access to two growth markets for Canadian goods, services and investment at a time when Canadian manufacturers and exporters are focusing on finding new customers and business opportunities around the world,” says Jayson Myers, President and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.
“We urge Parliament to pass this legislation quickly. This is especially critical in a context where our main trading partner, the United States, implemented its trade agreement with Jordan last year and ratified its agreement with Panama last month.”