Cortizo Visit to Colombia Ends Without Tariff Agreement
22 noviembre 2019

On November 13, Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo met with his Colombian opposite number Iván Duque, in the city of Bogotá. They concluded a series of bilateral agreements on security, migration, culture, tourism and democracy strengthening in the region. The Panamanian delegation included the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alejandro Ferrer; Rolando Mirones, of Commerce and Industries; Tayra Barsallo, General Director of the National Customs Authority; and Giovanni Ferrari, General Manager of the Colon Free Zone. At the end of their day of meetings at the Casa de Nariño, both presidents agreed to establish a Binational Cabinet as a mechanism for bilateral relations to maintain dialogue and coordinate public policies between the countries.

On trade, the governments of Panama and Colombia agreed to review and deepen the items covered by the current Partial Scope Trade Agreement. However, neither of the governments explicitly mentioned import tariffs, although a Memorandum of Understanding was signed to strengthen migratory controls, reactivating the Binational Border Commission and resuming the agenda of meetings between senior military and police officials.

The meeting was held after Cortizo requested a meeting with Duque on August 15, following a new increase in Colombian tariffs on certain products from the Colon Free Zone (Panama). This is part of the ongoing trade dispute between the two nations since 2012 in the World Trade Organization (WTO). After the meeting, the Panamanian president said he hoped that some of the differences would be resolved “bilaterally, as should be the case between very good neighbors, as part of a relationship of frank, open, fluid, respect, trust and friendship”.

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