Colombian and Panamanian diplomats next month will start negotiations to seal a free-trade agreement, Trade Minister Luis Guillermo Plata said in a statement Thursday.
The Colombian President Alvaro Uribe recently said he wanted the government to sign free-trade agreements with different countries to offset the effects of the economic slowdown of Colombia’s traditional export markets such as the U.S. and Venezuela.
Additionally, Venezuela restricted imports from Colombia in late 2009.
The Colombian government is negotiating a free-trade agreement with the European Union and is still waiting on the U.S. Congress to ratify an FTA reached in 2006.
Colombian exports to Panama were worth $310 million in 2009, Plata said. Foreign direct investment from Panama in the first three quarters of 2009 was $256 million. The country is Colombia’s sixth-largest foreign investor, while Colombia is Panama’s third-largest investor. (Dow Jones)