The United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced today that the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement, also known as the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), will enter into force on Oct. 31, 2012. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), the oldest and largest national organization representing the cattle industry, is greatly encouraged by this news and the ultimate removal of tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports, including U.S. agricultural exports. "The cattle industry has been waiting on implementation of this agreement for a long time and we're looking forward to increased trade opportunities with Panama," said Bob McCan, NCBA vice president and a Texas cattleman.
"The U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement immediately eliminates the 30 percent tariff on prime and choice beef cuts and all other duties will be phased out over the next 15 years. This is a positive step forward for American cattlemen and women." Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America with forecasts of between five to eight percent annual growth through 2012. This agreement provides U.S. ranchers access to this valuable market. Similar to the FTA with Colombia, the agreement with Panama provides assurances for a stable export market through plant inspection equivalency.
Additionally, Panama modified its import requirements related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) to be consistent with international standards. With these agreements in place, the United States will have free trade for U.S. beef with approximately two-thirds of the population in the Western Hemisphere. "NCBA has been an outspoken supporter of this agreement and others like it because they increase market access and provide stable export markets based on internationally recognized scientific standards," McCan said. "We are encouraged by today's news and we appreciate Ambassador Kirk and the USTR's leadership in moving these agreements forward."