WASHINGTON – The United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement will go into effect Oct. 31, ending tariffs and other trade barriers to US exports, said Ron Kirk, US Trade Representative.

"This agreement also provides US firms and workers improved access to customers in Panama’s $22 billion services market, including in areas such as financial, telecommunications, computer, express delivery, energy, environmental, and professional services,” Kirk said. “Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, expanding 10.6 percent in 2011, with forecasts of between five to eight percent annual growth through 2017. That adds up to support for more well-paying jobs across the United States.

“The increased access to this expanding market is backed by the agreement’s strong enforcement provisions,” he added.

The announcement was welcome news to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The free trade agreement with Panama eliminates a 30 percent tariff on prime and choice cuts and duties on all other cuts would be phased out over 15 years. The agreement also resolves significant sanitary and technical issues in that Panama will recognize the US meat inspection system as equivalent to its own meat system, for example.

“NCBA has been an outspoken supporter of this agreement and others like it because they increase market access and provide stable export markets based on internationally recognized scientific standards,” said Bob McCan, NCBA vice president and a Texas cattleman. “We are encouraged by today’s news and we appreciate Ambassador Kirk and the USTR’s leadership in moving these agreements forward.”