Why this Agreement Is as Good for Americans as It Is for Panamanians
The United States and the Republic of Panama signed a free-trade agreement recently ending negotiations that began in 2004.
Many hail this agreement as a bipartisan breakthrough in support of trade, with its strong protections for labor and the environment as well as commercial considerations.
Hopefully the Democrats that now control the U.S. Senate will approve this Bush administration free-trade agreement and thus bring critical economic and foreign policy advantages for both countries. All Americans should support the agreement that will bring the Panamanian people even closer to us with new, freer economic and foreign policy ties. Panama has been an extraordinary ally, whose citizens include some of the best friends America has anywhere.
Many thousands of Panamanians have been educated in the U.S. and there are many intermarried families in both nations. The century-old partnership based on the Panama Canal between the United States and Panama will be strengthened by this agreement.
Today, 15% of U.S. trade with the world passes through the Panama Canal that is one of the world's engineering wonders. The Manzanillo International Terminal, the largest container transshipment terminal in Latin America, is owned by U.S. investors. Panama has earned America's friendship the old fashioned way. Some nations have chosen to embrace the failed leftist, Castroite policies of the past and some are reverting to authoritarian rule and anti-Americanism, such as Chavez in Venezuela. But Panama, under President Martin Torrijos, is a thriving democracy with an open and rapidly expanding economy.
And Panama remains one of the world's leading asset protection and tax havens, as well as a residential haven that welcomes foreigners with attractive immigration and tax policies.