Manufactured goods account for almost 80 percent of U.S. exports to Panama – totaling $1.9 billion in 2010. Between 2008 and 2010 the top five U.S. industrial goods export sectors to Panama were information technology, infrastructure and machinery, chemicals, minerals and fuels and metals.
The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (the “Agreement”) creates new opportunities for U.S. manufacturers seeking to export to Panama, giving American manufacturers more market access in two ways: (1) by eliminating tariffs, or duties, charged when U.S. exports come into Panama, and (2) by laying out a framework to address other barriers to U.S. exports – including those that may arise in the future.
• Today, Panama enjoys effectively unlimited duty free access to the U.S. market for over 98 percent of its exports due to our low tariffs and access under U.S. trade preference programs. U.S. exports to Panama, on the other hand, face an average tariff rate of 7 percent. In important sectors the average rate can be even higher: transportation equipment (13.9 percent); auto and auto parts (10.3 percent); and consumer goods (10.9 percent). The Agreement’s elimination of high Panamanian tariffs will open new opportunities for U.S. exports.
• Over 87 percent of U.S. industrial and consumer goods will gain duty-free access to the Panamanian market immediately upon implementation. Most products in key U.S. export sectors, such as agricultural equipment, aerospace, automotive, construction equipment, electrical equipment, environmental goods, information and communications technologies, infrastructure and machinery, scientific equipment and mineral fuels – will gain duty-free access to the Panamanian market immediately upon entry into force of the Agreement.
• Panama has agreed to allow trade in remanufactured goods under the Agreement. This will provide significant export and investment opportunities for U.S. firms involved in re-manufactured products such as machinery, computers, cellular telephones, and other devices.
• Beyond tariffs, the Agreement establishes new transparency rules on the development of technical requirements on products. Under the Agreement, American manufacturers and others will have greater input into the process, and to participate on equal terms with Panamanian companies in the development of Panamanian standards, technical regulations, and conformity assessment procedures. This will be important for all U.S. exporters, but this new level of transparency will especially benefit small and medium-sized enterprises that typically lack resources to access information on technical requirements.
• The Agreement’s intellectual property rights provisions contain state-of-the-art protections for intellectual property with protections for patents, trademarks, and copyrights – critically important for U.S. industry’s knowledge-based manufactured goods such as semiconductors and other information technology products, aerospace equipment, and medical devices, to name just a few.