"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; support to promote Panama's economic, political, and social development; and a proposed bilateral free trade agreement (FTA). U.S. bilateral assistance amounted to $7.3 million in FY [fiscal year] 2010 while the FY2011 request is for $10.6 million and the FY2012 request for $2.6 million. This funding does not include assistance in FY2008 and FY2009 under the Mérida Initiative to assist Central American countries in their efforts to combat drug trafficking, gangs, and organized crime; beginning in FY2010, Panama has been receiving assistance under the successor Central America Regional Security Initiative. [...] The United States and Panama signed a bilateral FTA in June 2007, and Panama's National Assembly approved the agreement in July 2007. Neither the 110th nor the 111th Congress considered the agreement, but the 112th Congress could consider the agreement this session. Issues that have raised congressional concern relate to worker rights and to Panama's tax transparency. In the 112th Congress, several measures have been introduced that would express support for the FTA with Panama: S.Res. 20 (Johanns) and S. 98 (Portman), both introduced January 25, 2011; and H.Res. 86 (Frelinghuysen), introduced February 11, 2011."
CRS Report for Congress, RL30981