Panama and China will initiate the fourth round of NAFTA negotiations

Posted on 2018-11-21

The ZLC, which houses around 2,260 companies and generates 25,000 direct jobs according to government data and its Users Association, is the largest in the continent.

The financial services and rules of origin chapters will be some of the main ones to be discussed during the fourth round of negotiations of the free trade agreement (FTA) between Panama and China, which will start on Monday in the Panamanian capital. 

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Panama reported today that the negotiating teams of the Investment Chapter of the two countries held this weekend a few previous meetings “to advance the review of issues.” 

The chief negotiator of Panama, Alberto Alemán Arias, indicated that in this new round it is expected to “advance in the discussion of the Financial Services Chapter, originally proposed by the Panamanian team, with the objective of generating opportunities for Panama from the strength” in that sector.

During this round, which will end next Saturday, it is also expected to “deepen the Chapter on Rules of Origin”, for which the negotiators will visit the Colon Free Zone (CFZ) in order to “know from a practical point of view the particularities of their operations in relation to a commercial agreement, “the ministry said in an official statement. 

The ZLC, which houses around 2,260 companies and generates 25,000 direct jobs according to government data and its User Association, is the largest in the continent and has China as its main provider. 

The ministry added in its Sunday letter that the Panamanian chief negotiator considers that during the fourth round “important progress will be made in the Market Access Chapter”.

Panama and China established diplomatic relations in June of 2017 and exactly one year later the FTA negotiations began. 

The third round of negotiations took place in the second week of October in the Panamanian capital and culminated with “significant” progress in the chapters of intellectual property, cooperation and rules of origin, said on 13 of that month the Panamanian Ministry of Commerce and Industries. 

Since they established diplomatic ties, Panama and China have signed about thirty agreements in political, tourist, economic and infrastructure matters. 

Among them is the study of a bullet train, which requires an investment of close to 5,000 million dollars, which will link the capital with the western province of Chiriquí, bordering Costa Rica.

Panama and China have maintained strong economic ties for years, since the Asian giant is the second most important user of the Interoceanic Canal and the main supplier of the ZLC. 

According to official figures, in 2017 Panama imported goods and services from China worth 1,344 million dollars and exported products for 42.6 million dollars, including coffee, cattle skins and fishmeal.

Source LaEstrella