U.S.-Panama trade deal may test Obama goals

July 31st, 2009

USA Today

PANAMA CITY — The month-old government here is expected to announce as soon as next week the first steps toward breaking with decades of banking secrecy that have drawn both tax-allergic customers and global rebukes.

Panamanian officials insist that their limited financial unveiling is motivated solely by a desire to retool the economy for the post-financial crisis era, but the initiative’s more immediate impact may be felt in the halls of the U.S. Congress. That’s because Panama’s image as a leading offshore financial center conducive to hiding profits from the tax man has become the latest hurdle for a pending U.S. trade deal, which has languished since its 2007 signing during the Bush administration.

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