San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Free trade begins between Panama and Guatemala

The flow of commerce between Panama and Guatemala is expected to pick up speed following the official start on Monday of a free-trade agreement (FTA) between the two Central American nations.

Rubén Morales, Guatemala´s economy minister, told reporters Monday the FTA provides an enhanced framework for exporters, importers and investors in both countries. He added that the pact will work to close the gap in the countries´ trade balance, which currently tips toward Panamanian exports.

In 2008 Guatemalan exports to Panama totaled $147 million, while imports from Panama reached almost $380 million.

Authorities in both countries signed the pact in February but the FTA did not go into effect until Monday, when it was posted in the Diario de Centro América, the Guatemalan government´s official gazette (

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