Colombia will today begin negotiations with Panama over a proposed free trade agreement, a Panamanian trade minister announced on Wednesday.
Panama’s Vice Minister of Trade Francisco Alvarez De Soto said that his country “would be an interesting market for Colombia,” and stated that “We are a threat to no one,” reports Bloomberg.
Panama’s minister of commerce and industry, Roberto Henríquez, said in December that an agreement between the neighboring countries would cause trade to rise “exponentially,” adding that “After five years, the figure can be multiplied by ten.”
The announcement of trade talks follows the news earlier on Wednesday that Colombia’s exports to Venezuela dropped 33.4% in the second half of 2009.
Colombian exports to Venezuela are expected to drop to $1.5 billion in 2010, from more than $4 billion in 2009. Colombia has had a troubled commercial relationship with neighboring Venezuela, since Chavez cut ties with the country in protest over a military agreement signed between Washington and Bogota.