- Autoridad Nacional de Aduanas
A new hearing, before the World Trade Organization (WTO), was held in the city of Geneva on the tariff dispute between Panama and Colombia on clothing and footwear imports that are re-exported from the Colon Free Zone (ZLC). “It has been fully demonstrated in this case that Colombia’s measures do not serve the purpose of combating any kind of illicit trade, but rather measures of protection to the Colombian clothing and footwear industry that violate international trade laws and that they must be shut down completely,” the Minister of Commerce and Industries, Augusto Arosemena, said on the subject.
On March 12 and 13, the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism of Colombia, María Lorena Gutiérrez, held a meeting with Arosemena. After the meeting Gutiérrez said: “We had a very good meeting. We are inviting Panama to help us fight against illicit trade, because it is not only a problem of Colombia and Panama, but a global problem. I think we have made great progress in reaching a customs information agreement that will allow us to detect the people who participate in smuggling and to avoid putting frontiers to legal companies.”
In June 2013, Panama requested consultations with Colombia for the imposition of a mixed tariff that directly affected clothing and footwear re-exported from the ZLC. In 2016, the WTO issued a ruling in favor of Panama requesting the suspension of the mixed tariff. The measure ended up being changed by another tariff that for the Directorate of National Taxes and Customs of Colombia applies controls for “goods with ostensibly low import prices”, states an EFE note.
The hearing of this Tuesday, March 20, 2018, was held by the Dispute Settlement Branch of the WTO for the breach of the ruling in favor of Panama. “Panama, as it has done so far, will continue to defend the rights of its productive sectors and in particular of the ZLC as a key piece of our international logistics and commercial chain, until Colombia’s compliance with its commitments to market access for our re-exports,” said Minister of Commerce and Industries, Augusto Arosemena.
The results of this meeting will be known between August and September of this year.