The American Soybean Association (ASA) expresses appreciation to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk who says his office has completed its preparatory work on the U.S-Panama Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and stands ready to begin technical discussions with members of Congress on the draft implementing bill and draft statement of administrative action.

ASA urges that Congress and the Administration support and pass this agreement now and take full advantage of the opportunity it provides for America’s economic growth.

"The United States already has a large share of the Panamanian agricultural market that must be protected," said ASA President Alan Kemper, a soybean producer from Lafayette, Ind. "Averaged across all agricultural products, the United States supplies 53 percent of Panamanian agricultural imports. For the commodities most important to the United States, the share is more than 80 percent."

The Panama FTA will prevent other countries, specifically other Latin and North American suppliers, from taking some of the current U.S. share of the Panamanian market. In addition, Panama has completed a trade agreement with Canada. If this agreement goes into effect before the U.S. agreement, Canadian exporters will gain a significant competitive advantage over the United States in the market.