Colombia, Panama Commercial Spat Goes To WTO

The commercial differences between Panama and Colombia because of the imposing of a tax to the textile and shoe industry products that are re-exported from the Free Trade Zone of Colon to Colombia, went down to the World Trade Organization.

That was released by Leroy Sheffer, a lawyer of the Free Trade Zone users. who confirmed that the next week, representatives from Colombia and Panama will expose their respective positions on the topic at the WTO in Geneva, Switzerland.

This will be the first consulting session before the WTO, and a chance for Colombia to evaluate the reach of the measures applied to the products.

Panama denounced Colombia before WTO on June 18 for having imposed a tax of 10 percent to textile and shoe industry products plus a charge of 5 dollars for each pair of shoes and each kilogram of clothes arriving in Colombia, coming from the Free Trade Zone.

Bogota justifies the excessive tax to supposedly avoid smuggling.

“But what is really behind all this, is that Colombia wants to protect its industry,” stated Severo Sousa, former president of the Association of Users.

The measure is going against all the trading rules and is totally unfair, said Ricardo Quijano, Panamanian Minister of Trade and Industries.

Sheffer said there could be an agreement between Colombia and Panama on this case because there are precedents confirming that this kind of measures is not compatible with the commitments of Colombia before WTO.

“If the difference is not solved in 60 days, Panama should immediately request the WTO to select or assign the number of experts to solve the dispute,” Sheffer concluded.

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