Caterpillar Chairman Urges Passage of U.S.-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement
May 26, 2009
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Caterpillar Inc. chairman and CEO Jim Owens recently testified before the United States Senate Finance Committee in support of passage of a Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) between the United States and Panama.

During his testimony, Owens noted that the Panama Canal Expansion project is one reason duty-free trade with Panama is essential. The expansion is one of the world's largest public works projects since the Three Gorges Dam was constructed in China. Today, about 5% of all world trade passes through the Panama Canal, he said. With the Canal at capacity and many of the newer, larger ships unable to use the Canal, Owens said that it takes longer than it should for some U.S. exports to reach overseas markets.

Owens testified that the TPA with Panama will benefit manufacturing exporters like Caterpillar and American farmers who export crops, he said, because it will reduce the tariffs on U.S. products shipped to this long-time ally. He said that more than 60% of Caterpillar's sales are outside of the United States, and most of its major competitors are based overseas. "We know we can compete and win in the global marketplace, but we must have trade policies that remove foreign trade barriers," he said.

If enacted, Owens said that a trade agreement with Panama would eliminate tariffs ranging from three to 10% on Caterpillar products, benefiting both the company and its customers.

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