The union of exporters claims that business opportunities are being lost due to the slow pace of processing and issue of permits and certificates for export.
Juan Bulnes, president of the Panamanian Association of Exporters (APEX), told Prensa.com that"...'For exporters, the National Customs Authority (ANA) and the Ministry of Health (MoH) are a thorn in their side'."
The quotas for duty free export of beef, rice and tuna negotiated in the Agreement with the European Union are not being exploited to the fullest extent by local producers.
Lack of certification by the meat processing plants for export, the crisis in the agricultural sector and the absence of incentives to produce exportable foods are some of the factors which, in the opinion of producers, are preventing the country from taking advantage of the tariff benefits granted to country under the Economic Association Agreement (AA).
Panama will once again try to negotiate trade agreements with Caribbean countries to which it already exports processed food and drinks.
Following the same strategy as Trinidad and Tobago, the government will seek to reach agreements with Caribbean countries in order to increase exports already made by Panamanian companies, mainly those of beverages and processed foods.
In 2013, foreign sales increased by 85% compared to 2012, generating foreign exchange earnings of $76 million.
The growth in demand from Asian countries coupled with the rise in international prices explain the sharp increase in shrimpexports from Panama, which is now seeking to increase its presence in new markets.
Industrialists will have the opportunity to supply vessels which cross the isthmus with locally manufactured products such as food and beverages.
Maximum Gallardo, leader of the Union of Industrialists of Panama (SIP), believes that the expansion of the Canal will generate exciting opportunities for manufacturers who will be able to supply their products to the ships that will use the new waterway.
Differences in customs processes between Central American countries to date are preventing them from trading as a block, in this case, with the EU.
According to the manager of the Integration and Trade Sector at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Antoni Estevadeordal, trade agreements themselves are not a guarantee of success."It is not enough to have a policy of openness. To take advantage of the treaties you must have production policies that are short and long term, in education, innovation, and especially in internal infrastructure, which are the ones that at the end of the day let you take advantage of the deals," he said.
As set out in the FTA with the U.S., Canada and the European Union, Panama has three months to remove or replace these incentives.
Authorities from the MICI, the Panama Exporters Association (APEX) and the Union of Agro export of non-traditional products (Gantrap) are preparing a proposal, which must first be approved by the Cabinet Council and later by the National Assembly.
Concerned about a possible penalty for non-compliance in the prevention of illegal fishing, the fishing industry is calling for urgent remedial actions by the authorities.
Panama is one of the countries likely to be affected by the impending crackdown by the European Union, which could jeopardize exports of seafood to the region, which amounts to a volume of $40 million.
The recent adoption of legislation necessary for the entry into force of the TPA with the U.S. includes opening the gates for the installation of large retailers.
Panama's Constitution expressly reserves retail trade for Panamanians, because of this, the method found to align themselves with agreements made for the Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) with the United States, was to modify the rules for companies involved in wholesale trade, introducing the classification of "multi-service businesses."
Panama's export sector is urging government authorities to make the single counter for export processes function properly.
Since 1985 the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has provides this tool to the export sector, which seeks to centralize in one place all the necessary procedures for exports, but to date it has not been able to meet its objectives.
Food companies and those related to the construction industry have successfully managed to adapt to changes in the last few decades.
The entrance into the World Trade Organization (WTO), unilateral lower tariffs and more recently the entry into force of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), have been challenges for evolving and managerial capacities, and for industrial adjustment in Panama in the last two decades.
In 2010, the state granted exemptions and incentives worth $ 23.4 million to exporters, mainly through Tax Credit Certificates (CAT in Spanish).
A total of 1359 CAT were endorsed for $18.9 million, relating to exports in 2009. This mechanism was halted at the end of that year, for being incompatible with standards set by the World Trade Organization.