The United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement will officially go into effect on Oct. 31 after both countries reviewed their respective laws and regulations related to the agreement. U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk said, “Under this comprehensive agreement, Panama will eliminate tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports, which will promote economic growth and expand trade between our two countries. This agreement also provides U.S. firms and workers (with) improved access to customers in Panama’s $22-billion services market, including in areas such as financial, telecommunications, computer, express delivery, energy, environmental and professional services.” U.S. agricultural exports will benefit from this agreement. U.S. agricultural goods currently face an average tariff of 15%, with some tariffs as high as 260%. Nearly half of U.S. exports of agricultural commodities to Panama will immediately become duty-free, including wheat, barley, soybeans, high-quality beef, bacon and almost all fruit and vegetable products, with most of the remaining tariffs to be eliminated within 15 years. President Barack Obama signed the trade agreement into law on Oct. 21, 2011. The U.S. exported $8.2 billion in goods to Panama in 2011.