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U.S., Panama make progress on free trade pact

04-29-2011 09:14 BJT

WASHINGTON, April 28 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday told his Panamanian counterpart Ricardo Martinelli that he was pleased to see progress made in moving forward a free trade agreement between their countries.

"So my expectation is that as part of a broader trade package that we're going to be presenting to Congress, that we're going to be able to get this done," Obama told reporters after meeting his guest at the White House.

Due to opposition from labor unions, Obama has a package of three free trade pacts -- respectively with Panama, Colombia and South Korea signed by his predecessor George W. Bush -- to be approved by Congress. The Republicans want the president to send all three pacts to Congress so they can be approved by July 1.

"Thanks to the leadership of President Martinelli, there have been a range of significant reforms in banking and taxation in Panama," Obama said, noting that a free trade agreement would be good for both countries by opening up new markets "with potential for billions of dollars of cross-border trade."

Martinelli described as "very fruitful" his meeting with Obama, saying his country has completed "all the necessary steps" in order to have a free trade agreement with the United States, which he said is a main supplier of many goods and services to Panama.




Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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