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U.S. Seed Potatoes Gain Access to Panama

On Aug. 30, the Panamanian Ministry of Agriculture signed the U.S. Seed Potato Market Access protocol, which provides clear and attainable requirements for seed potato exports to Panama.

 “Due to the market development work that we’re doing,” said John Toaspern, U.S. Potato Board VP, International Marketing, “Panama is a growing market for U.S. seed.  It was critical this agreement was signed in order to maintain the momentum.” 

A concerted effort by the U.S. Potato Board, the National Potato Council (NPC), the U.S. Embassy and Panamanian importers convinced the government to sign the document the day before it permanently left office, which avoided weeks – if not months – of delays as the government transition took place.  Now, U.S. seed potato exporters can ship to Panama with little difficulty. While an import permit will still be required, issuance will be routine. Moreover, USDA will be able to issue required phytosanitary certificates with ease as the controversial requirements that caused shipping delays last year have been addressed.

The shipping requirements under the agreement were entered into USDA’s EXCERPT export requirement database the week of Sept. 7, making the agreement official.

“This effort is another victory for the National Potato Council, U.S. Potato Board and state potato organizations’ phytosanitary initiative,” said John Keeling, NPC executive director. “We sincerely appreciate all the USDA officials who assisted with this effort, especially Bill Snell (APHIS), Marco Gonzalez (APHIS) and Hugo Salazar (U.S. Embassy, Panama City).”

Originally posted Monday, Oct. 18, 2004

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