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Panama Ratifies Free Trade Agreement with US


Panama's legislature has ratified a free trade agreement with the United States.

On Wednesday, the country's national assembly voted in favor of the pact 58-3, with one abstention. Both governments signed the agreement June 28.

The signing came just two days before the expiration of President Bush's authority for "fast track" trade promotion. That authority allows the White House to negotiate trade deals that the U.S. Congress must approve or reject without making changes. It is not clear when Congress will vote on the deal.

The deal includes provisions that require the U.S. and Panama to abide by international labor standards.

In recent years, annual trade between the U.S. and Panama has totaled about $2 billion, with most of it in the form of U.S. exports.

Almost half of Panama's imports come from the United States. U.S. foreign investment in Panama is about $25 billion.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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