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Telecommunications in the U.S. – Panama Trade Promotion Agreement

In an increasing dynamic environment, U.S. telecommunications operators continue to look for opportunities to extend the reach of their global networks in order to deliver the advanced telecommunications their customers demand. The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (the “Agreement”) provides yet another opportunity for U.S. operators to gain the legal certainty necessary to either make significant investments abroad or tap into existing telecommunications infrastructure to better expand their businesses.

KEY ELEMENTS

• Through the Agreement, U.S. investors are guaranteed the ability to build or acquire 100 percent ownership of a Panamanian telecommunications operator.

• Users of Panamanian telecom networks are guaranteed reasonable and nondiscriminatory access to Panamanian telecommunications networks.

• U.S. telecommunications companies are ensured the right to interconnect with Panamanian dominant carriers’ fixed networks at nondiscriminatory and cost-based rates.

• U.S. firms will be able to lease lines from Panama telecom networks on non-discriminatory terms and to re-sell most telecom services of Panamanian suppliers to build a customer base.

• Under the Agreement, Panama agreed to a pro-competitive regulatory framework that builds upon the WTO Basic Telecommunications Reference Paper. This is a significant achievement given that Panama took no specific telecommunications commitments at the WTO and therefore never adopted the Reference Paper.