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Panama And Colombia Discuss FTA

Friday, February 12, 2010

Negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement between Panama and Colombia began in earnest on February 10, and Colombian President, Alvaro Uribe has expressed hope that an agreement could be achieved in a matter of weeks.

Following preliminary talks in January, Panama’s Vice Minister of Trade Francisco Alvarez De Soto, in an interview with Bloomberg, spoke of the two countries' political will to sign an agreement.

"Panama would be an interesting market for Colombia,” De Soto told Bloomberg in an interview in Panama City.

Trade between the two countries in 2009 amounted to USD466m, with Colombian exports to Panama accounting for the majority, with USD319m. The FTA could boost trade by ten times as much over the next five years, De Soto said.

The agreement is of particular pertinence to the Colombian economy, as it has been forecasted that exports from Colombia to Venezuela are to diminish by two-thirds in 2010, from more than USD4m in 2009 to around USD1.5bn in 2010, as a result of the latter's protest against US miliatry bases in Colombia.