Bahrain Since its implementation in August 2006, the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement has increased export opportunities for U.S. companies. U.S. exports to Bahrain, which totaled $652.3 million in 2016, have been consistently higher since the free trade agreement came into force. Trade in two-lane goods reached 1.2 billion euros in 2016, up 61% from 2005. “USTR completes preparation work at Panama FTA, ready for technical talks with legislators,” BNA International Trade Reporter, April 21, 2011, and correspondence with the Panamanian Embassy, April 8, 2011. President Obama signed the Implementing Act on October 21, 2011 (P.L. 112-43 , 125 Stat. 427), but the free trade agreement would not take effect for another year. Panama needed this time to amend the legislation needed to bring it in line with the provisions of the free trade agreement. On October 22, 2012, the U.S.
Trade Representative (USTR) exchanged notes with Panama outlining the entry into force of the free trade agreement. President Obama proclaimed the agreement on October 29, 2012 and the free trade agreement came into force on October 31, 2012. Panama approached the United States for an autonomous free trade agreement, preferring to avoid a direct link with the free trade agreement between the United States and the Dominican Republic and Central America (CAFTA-DR). Panama wanted to maximize the potential of a free trade agreement to gain U.S. Congressional approval by emphasizing the historic and strategic nature of U.S.-Panama relations, while separating negotiations from the controversial CAFTA-DR agreement. Panama`s service industry, the small textile and clothing industry and limited integration into Central American economies also supported the case for separate negotiations32. Its status as an autonomous legal entity, in accordance with the Panamanian Constitution, required separate negotiations on public procurement, labour, investment and other areas. The final text of the U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement contains amendments based on the May 10, 2007 bipartisan agreement, drawn up by the Bush administration and the leaders of the 110th Congress. These include the adoption of enforceable labour standards, mandatory adherence to multilateral environmental agreements and the easing of restrictions on developing countries` access to generic drugs, provisions that go beyond those of the previous United States.