Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today made the following statement on the U.S. - Panama Trade Promotion Agreement:
"The U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (Panama TPA) enters into force next week, eliminating tariffs and other barriers to U.S. goods and services, promoting economic growth, and enhancing trade between the United States and Panama. Last year, President Obama insisted that we get this agreement with Panama right-alongside pacts with South Korea and Colombia-forging a better deal for America's workers and businesses that led to strong bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. Altogether, these agreements will bring an additional $2.2 billion in agricultural exports.
Panama is an important market for America's farmers and ranchers. In 2011, the United States exported more than $504 million of agricultural products to Panama, one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. Next week, nearly half of current U.S. farm exports to Panama will become duty free immediately and most of the remaining tariffs will be eliminated within 15 years.
Since the time when the President signed the Panama, Colombia and Korea agreements into law, USDA has also acted to remove hundreds of unfair barriers to trade for American companies and provide businesses with the resources they need to reach new markets. These efforts have resulted in the most successful period in the history of American agriculture and a boon for America's rural economies. We are experiencing the strongest four years for agricultural exports in our nation's history and are forecast to continue this record success in 2013."