Since taking office, President Obama hasn’t exactly been a beacon for trade liberalization and open markets. Instead, he has pandered to his protectionist, no faith in America’s competitive advantage allies in Congress, allowing them to pass legislation that sparked a trade war with Mexico, our third largest trading partner, and could reduce imports of steel and other manufactured goods.
However, there could be some positive news for supporters of free trade as the Administration has signaled it may send the Panama Free Trade Agreement to Congress for approval. Panama could be the starting off point for passage of the other pending agreements currently being held up, Colombia and South Korea. 
Below are just a few reasons why the Panama FTA should be approved without delay:
  • Levels the playing field by removing trade and investment barriers that have hindered American exports to Panama. While more than ninety percent of imports from Panama are duty free, U.S. products still face tariffs when entering Panama. The Panama FTA will eliminate this trade barrier and open new markets for U.S. product 
  • Opens up $5.25 billion in contracts American firms will be allowed to compete for when Panama begins the expansion of the Panama Canal.  
  • Lowers taxes for Americans and Panamanians. A tariff is nothing more than a tax on international commerce. Since tariffs and trade barriers amount to government-imposed costs on both companies and consumers, eliminating these barriers in a free trade agreement amounts to a significant tax cut for both countries.
And maybe Panama could export a little tax reform to the U.S. Say simplifying the tax code ala President-elect, Ricardo Martinelli?