The lack of agreement in the sixth round of negotiations shows how difficult it will be, especially in terms of exports from the Colon Free Zone.
The sixth round of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement between Panama and Colombia in Medellin, closed last Friday without any agreement being reached, therefore each country will now consider the proposals line by line and take its position to the next round be held in late May in Panama.
From 11 to 15 March 2013 the two countries will resume trade agreement negotiations in a sixth round to be held in Medellin.
Capital.com.pa reports that "the Minister of Trade and Industry (MITI), Ricardo Quijano, formally announced the relaunch of trade negotiations between the Republic of Panama and the Republic of Colombia, which have been suspended since October 2010, during the V round of negotiations, held here. "
Government authorities traveled to Colombia with the objective of resuming FTA negotiations.
The negotiations had been suspended back in October due to lack of consensus on issues like access to agricultural and non agricultural markets and customs procedures, among others.
"Chief negotiators, Francisco Alvarez de Soto of Panama and Santiago Pardo of Colombia, have expressed confidence that negotiations will resume with renewed perspectives and will progress on pending issues in order to finalize the agreement," reports the article in Laestrella.com.pa.
The Panamanian Government considered conditions do not allow an agreement at this time.
During the fifth round of trade negotiations the Vice Minister of Commercial Negotiations of Panama, Francisco Alvarez de Soto, said that "The Government made the decision to communicate to our colleagues in Colombia that we consider appropriate and relevant at the moment, to suspend the process."
The fifth and probably final round of negotiations for the Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and Panama is developing this week.
It is expected to define the most sensitive aspects of the agreement, including complete list of market accesses, "origin rules, trade facilitation and customs cooperation, sanitary and health certifications as wells as government purchases," reported Prensa.com.
From today until 17 September public procurement, rules and procedures of origin, customs administration and trade promotion will form the basis of discussions.
The negotiations will take place in the Colombian capital, Bogota, and will also cover intellectual property, financial services, health and telecommunications.
"The Panamanian government has stated that it reviewed 60 points of view from various local businesses and held 50 consultation meetings in order to avoid impacting the private sector during the free trade agreement discussions with Colombia," reports Panamá América.
The next round of negotiations for the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between both nations is scheduled for 13 September in Bogota.
The subjects pending for the fourth round are: "rules of origin, institutional issues, administration and facilitation of trade, financial services, public and plant health measures, trade and market access, intellectual property, investment and public procurement," reports Elsalvador.com.
At least two or three additional negotiation rounds will be necessary to close the Free Trade Agreement between the countries.
In addition to the core topic of “what, how much and how” to remove tariffs between both countries, there will be tough discussions regarding rules of origin, labeling and customs regulations. These issues will push back the negotiation beyond June, so the conclusion of this agreement will be a responsibility of the upcoming Colombian government of Manuel Santos.