Panama asks WTO for $210 million fine for Colombia

Augusto Arosemena
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PANAMA and Colombia are planning regular meetings to  iron out trade issues, but while jaw not war may be on the table, it has no stopped Panama from firing a parting shot at its southern neighbor by asking the World Trade Organization to impose sanctions of $210 million.

The move is related to a trade dispute between the two countries that arose in 2013.

“Panama requests the authorization of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) to suspend the application of concessions or other obligations to the value of $210

million to Colombia. This level of suspension is equivalent to the level of impairment resulting from the fact that Colombia has not complied with the recommendations and rulings of the DSB concerning the importation of textiles, clothing and footwear,” said a Panama government press release.

Last week, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry reported that Panama and Colombia had  agreed to implement a plan of action to overcome the differences between the two countries, arising from the trade measures applied by the Colombian authorities to footwear and textiles from the Colón Free Zone.

The agreement was made during a meeting held in Cartagena between Commerce Minister Augusto Arosemena and his Colombian counterpart, María Claudia Lacouture.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Luis Miguel Hincapie and Colombian Deputy Minister Patti Londoño also spoke at the meeting.

Arosemena described the meeting as positive and said a diplomatic solution to the issue seemed likely.

He said  that “the two governments agree on the importance of strengthening trade relations

and finding a viable solution that guarantees the interest of both countries that have historically been important partners.”

Arosemena stressed that it is the responsibility of the technical teams in each country to carry out their assessments to determine the feasibility and application of the agreements.

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