Harper should be comfortable with the business oriented president who will no doubt turn out to be an ally of the U.S. and is less critical of the coup in Honduras than many other Latin American countries. That being said Harper seems to be expanding economic links worldwide and this is a positive development that will make our economic growth somewhat less dependent on the U.S. economy. Harper also is expanding our trade relationships with China.
Canada to reveal trade deal with Panama
TheStar.com - Canada - Canada to reveal trade deal with Panama
August 11, 2009 Les WhittingtonOttawa Bureau
PANAMA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in Panama today to announce a free-trade agreement with the Central American nation.
Harper met on Tuesday with Panama President Ricardo Martinelli, the recently elected conservative supermarket tycoon whose rise to power in Panama reversed the trend toward left-wing governments in Latin America.
Signing a trade liberalization deal with Panama is part of the Harper government's goal of expanding economic links in Latin America. Canada also plans trade pacts with the European Union, India, South Korea, and a number of countries in the Americas.
Panama's economy grew at a rate of 9.2 per cent in 2008.
Canadian merchandise exports to Panama were only $128 million last year, but increased by 48 per cent from the previous year.
The deal has to be approved by Parliament.
Once enacted, it would immediately eliminate more than 90 per cent of tariffs on Canadian exports like potatoes and other agricultural exports, and high-tech machinery like flight simulators.
Other tariffs would be eliminated within 10 years.
Canada exported over six times more merchandise than it imported from Panama last year.
Harper returns to Canada tonight.