Panama’s Minister of Commerce and Industry has announced that, after a third round of negotiations, a free trade agreement (FTA) between Central America and the Republic of Korea will soon be signed.

In early March 2016, the third round of negotiations (link in Spanish) between Korea and Central America was held in California, at which the parties addressed the following topics: institutional affairs, market access, rules of origin and origin procedures, customs procedures and trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, trade defense, services, investment, government procurement, intellectual property, competition policy, trade and sustainable development, cooperation, dispute settlement, as well as a first exchange on environmental and labor issues.

Panama’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Augusto Arosemena, stated that by the end of this round, progress had been made at the negotiating tables on competition policy, technical barriers to trade, trade defense, institutional affairs, and dispute settlement. Further work and negotiations are still necessary in the remaining technical fields.

As part of the agreements between Korea and Central America, a mini-round is expected to be held in Seoul, South Korea, in April 2016.