"With five successive elected civilian governments, the Central American nation of Panama has made notable political and economic progress since the 1989 U.S. military intervention that ousted the regime of General Manuel Noriega from power. Current President Ricardo Martinelli of the center-right Democratic Change (CD) party was elected in May 2009, defeating the ruling center-left Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) in a landslide. Martinelli was inaugurated to a five-year term on July 1, 2009. […]. The United States has close relations with Panama, stemming in large part from the extensive linkages developed when the canal was under U.S. control and Panama hosted major U.S. military installations. The current relationship is characterized by extensive counternarcotics cooperation, assistance to help Panama assure the security of the Canal, and a proposed bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). […]. In June 2007, the United States and Panama signed a proposed bilateral FTA, and Panama's National Assembly overwhelmingly approved the agreement in July 2007. While the 111th Congress could consider implementing legislation for the FTA, a number of observers believe that it is unlikely that it will be considered this year. Final issues being worked out relate to worker rights and to Panama's bank secrecy laws. H.Res. 987 (Frelinghuysen), introduced in December 2009, would express the sense of the House that the FTA with Panama should be implemented immediately, and H.Res. 1124 (Mack), introduced in February 2010, would call on President Obama to submit the Panama FTA to Congress and work to ensure that it is approved."
CRS Report for Congress, RL30981