SEE BELOW FOR A SAMPLE LETTER AND A DECLARATION FROM A PANAMANIAN
CIVIL SOCIETY GROUP!
In spite of campaign promises to engage in a thorough re-thinking
of our trade model, word has it that the Obama administration is
planning to introduce, maybe as early as this week, the Bush era
Panama Free Trade Agreement. There is also talk that the Colombian
FTA may soon follow. With many Democratic candidates having been
elected promising a re-thinking of the model, it seems difficult
to believe the Obama administration would do this.
The current trade model, as embodied in the NAFTA and CAFTA agreements
is rife with negative impacts, heavily impacting workers in North
as well as South countries. The model needs a thorough reworking.
The Panama FTA would flood Panama with subsidized U.S. grains, as
previous FTAs have done in signing countries. This is debilitating
in terms of food production. In economic crises such as this one,
it is imperative that we act in ways that will increase food security,
for ourselves and our neighbors.
Destroying the livelihood of farmers here and abroad is never a
and Preside nt Obama
Say YES to Rethinking Trade and say NO to business as usual.
I am discouraged to hear the U.S. government may move forward on
trade agreements left over from the Bush administration such as the
Panama and Colombia FTAs.
This past November I voted for change in our trade policies and I
expect change. More agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA that put U.S.
jobs at risk and destroy the livelihood of farmers around the world
by flooding their markets with U.S. subsidized grains are never a
Please to do not allow the Panama Free Trade Agreement to be
introduced in Congress and follow through with the change we expect
in U.S. trade policy.
PANAMANIAN CIVIL SOCIETY GROUP PROTESTS FREE TRADE AGREEMENT!
[From a declaration that was released by the Panama Sovereignty
Front (FRENTE PANAMA SOBERANO) on January 9, 2007, shortly after
the negotiations of the trade agreement had been completed.]
The Panama Sovereignty Front (FPS) notes with alarm and concern the
tactics used by our government with relation to the trade agreement
with the United States negotiated and signed on December 19, 2006.
The so called "Free Trade Agreement" is the product of 10 rounds
of negotiations with both countries coming to an agreement that
would permit the United States access to the internal market of
Panama. In exchange the U.S. does not offer any opening for
Panamanian goods or services to gain access to the market of that
country in a favorable and expedited manner.
According to the information released by the U.S.
government, the agreement would mean that the people would have to
assume the burden of higher prices for health care (medicine,
doctors' visits), education, social security, transportation and
The agreement would also have a direct impact on specific sectors
of the population such as farmers, professionals and workers. In
the case of Panamanian farmers, they would lose their access to the
national market and would have to abandon their land. The Panamanian
market would be inundated with U.S. farm products that are in surplus
in that country. Our country would be totally abandoning its policy
of food security and we would not be consuming our own rice, beef
and other products.
In the case of professionals, the pact would allow U.S.
specialists to work in Panama as if they were Panamanian citizens.
According to U.S. officials, "it will give us access to the
professional service area that previously was reserved exclusively
The labor sector would also be impacted. For 20 years, the policies
of labor flexibilization have decreased by 50% Panama's labor force.
This agreement with the U.S. would mean an even greater increase
in the informal sector which lives below the poverty line and now
represents 40% of the economically active population.
To this we must add that Panama would accept that its policies would
be inspected and penalized by the United States. Committees of
Trade Support would be created, a Council of Environmental Affairs
and arbitration mechanisms for investors and the U.S.
Customs Department would also participate in monitoring Panama.
Panama would also concede to U.S. companies the right to participate
in running the Panama Canal and in the management of the Social
Security pension fund as if they were Panamanian nationals.
The Panamanian people will not accept a pact with the United States
that damages the interests of our workers and farmers. We will not
accept an accord that means going backwards in terms of advances
achieved after generations of struggle (social security, the Panama
Canal, education among other).
Panama Sovereignty Front
FRENTE PANAMA SOBERANO
Panama, January 9, 2007
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