The House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade yesterday held a hearing on the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement, the second in a series of three hearings on pending trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama. Ambassador Miriam Sapiro from the Office of the Trade Representative provided testimony.

Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) again urged that all three agreements should be considered by July 1, as Panama has forged ahead with trade agreements with Canada and the European Union. Although Sapiro could not provide a definitive timeline, she stated that the "goal remains to have all three agreements, with their outstanding issues addressed, approved by Congress as early as possible this year."

USA Rice Federation supports the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement. U.S. rice producers, millers and exporters will immediately benefit from two separate tariff rate quotas for rough rice and milled rice, which allow for duty-free imports, once the agreement is implemented. Furthermore, the agreement phases out Panama's duties on U.S. rice over a 20-year period.