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.
• 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. 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 the prudential requirements 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.
• 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.