Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) hailed the announcement Oct. 22 that the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will go into effect on Oct. 31.

The FTA will provide U.S. exporters access to Panama’s $20.6 billion services market as well as more than $15 billion in infrastructure projects in Panama for American businesses.

According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation, 2010 U.S. pork and pork variety meat exports to Panama were worth $10.4 million. They could essentially double with the FTA, surpassing $20 million by 2016.

The FTA would mean:

  • Duties of 60-70% on most cuts eliminated through duty-free tariff rate quota, starting at 1,600 metric tons.
  • Duties of 15% on bacon, cured hams and pig fat eliminated through duty-free tariff rate quota, starting at 636 metric tons.
  • Duties of 30% and 15% on prepared/preserved items eliminated through duty-free tariff rate quota, starting at 318 metric tons. Each tariff rate quota volume increases annually until reaching unlimited duty-free volumes by year 15. One metric ton is equal to 2,204.62 lb.

The National Pork Producers Council says at full implementation U.S. pork exports will increase by $16 million annually, creating 213 U.S. pork industry jobs.

The increase in exports will also cause live U.S. hog prices to rise by $.20/head, NPPC officials project.