U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement [April 26, 2012]   [open pdf - 574KB]

"On June 28, 2007, the United States and Panama signed a reciprocal free trade agreement (FTA) after two and a half years and 10 rounds of negotiations. Negotiations formally concluded on December 16, 2006, with an understanding that changes to labor, environment, and intellectual property rights chapters would be made pursuant to future congressional input. These changes were agreed to and the FTA was signed in time to be considered under Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, which expired on July 1, 2007. TPA allows Congress to consider certain trade implementing bills under expedited procedures. Panama's legislature ratified the FTA 58 to 4 on July 11, 2007 (see Appendix A for Chronology of U.S.-Panama FTA Milestones). Neither the 110th nor the 111th Congress took up the agreement. The U.S. Congress did not consider implementing legislation for over four years after the FTA was signed, an unprecedented delay reflecting multiple concerns of Congress (see below). Eventually, the 112th Congress took up the free trade agreement when congressional leaders and the Obama Administration came to an understanding on how to proceed. On July 7, 2011, the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees both held simultaneous 'mock markups,' where they informally approved draft implementing bills. On October 3, 2011, the Obama Administration transmitted to both houses of Congress final implementing legislation and supporting documents, as required under TPA. Following committee action, on October 12, 2011, the House agreed to the implementing bill (H.R. 3079) 300-129, followed by the Senate 77- 22. President Obama signed the bill into law on October 21, 2011 (P.L. 112-43, 125 Stat. 427). The FTA enters into force by presidential proclamation when Panama completes all legal and regulatory changes required to meet the obligations of the agreement."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL32540
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