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Financial Services in the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement

The financial services chapter in the U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (the “Agreement”) provides extensive market access into Panama for American financial services firms – supplementing and modifying the Agreement’s rules on investment and services without undermining the right of U.S. financial regulators to take action to ensure the integrity and stability of financial markets or address a financial crisis. Importantly, Panama commits to treat U.S. financial institutions comparably to their competitors in the Panamanian market.

KEY ELEMENTS:

• Under the Agreement, U.S. and Panamanian financial institutions will be able to establish or acquire financial institutions in each other’s markets and may choose whether to establish that institution as a subsidiary or a branch, based on what best fits their business models. The United States and Panama agreed to some limited exceptions to this commitment, for example, in order to preserve U.S. laws regarding financial services. In every case, all financial institutions must comply with capital requirements, licensing requirements and other regulations set out by financial authorities.

• U.S. and Panamanian firms will be able to supply a clearly defined set of financial services in each other’s markets. In banking and securities, this is limited to advisory services, financial information and data processing, and portfolio management services for investment funds.

• In insurance, these services include marine, aviation and transport insurance; insurance for goods in international transit; reinsurance and retrocession; services necessary to provide insurance, such as actuarial services or claims settlement; and, the ability for an insurance service supplier to serve as an agent or broker for a large commercial risk – such as, insuring a shipping fleet and the goods it carries.

• Neither the United States nor Panama makes any commitment to allow the cross-border sale of core banking, securities or insurance services.

• The Agreement requires Panama to improve transparency in its financial regulation. In line with U.S. practice, Panama agreed to generally publish proposed financial services regulations in advance and give interested persons a reasonable opportunity to comment on them.