Panama - Country Commercial Guide
Trade Standards

Describes standards, identifies the national standards, accreditation bodies, and lists the national testing organization(s) and conformity assessment bodies.

Last published date: 2021-10-13

Overview

As a WTO member, Panama implemented the WTO’s Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), including the Code of Good Practice for the Preparation, Adoption, and Application of Standards. The government of Panama (GOP) passed Law 23 of July 15, 1997, which established new dispositions on product standards, labeling, and certification policy and redefined the functions of the Directorate General of Standards and Industrial Technology (DGNTI) and the Panamanian Commission for Industrial and Technical Standards (COPANIT).  DGNTI’s central role is to establish standards and technical regulations, while COPANIT plays an advisory role to DGNTI. The National Council for Accreditation (CNA) is responsible for all national accreditations. For more information, visit the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for the Technical Regulations

Panama has an open economy, and there are no significant market access problems related to standards and technical regulations. Specific market access problems have occurred in the past with several agricultural products, such as fresh onions, fresh potatoes, dairy products, fresh shell eggs.

According to WTO guidelines, Panama informs WTO of any standards or technical regulations activities. U.S. companies can participate in the standards development process by contacting DGNTI and submitting specific requests or suggestions. There are no limitations to participation by foreign countries.

Products for which Panama has not set standards can enter the Panamanian market if they comply with standards and technical regulations from the U.S., Europe, or any other industrialized country

Standards

The Directorate General of Standards and Industrial Technology (DGNTI) establishes technical regulations and standards in Panama. Because of budget and other limitations, this organization has been mostly dedicated to establishing standards for food products upon specific requests by industrial organizations and according to WTO guidelines. DGNTI performs its functions through its three departments: Standards, Certifications, and the Information Center. For more information, visit the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for the Technical Regulations.

Conformity Assessment

While DGNTI has the lead in conducting conformity assessments, it is joined by many other public and private organizations. These organizations include the Central Laboratory of Health from the Ministry of Health (MINSA), the University of Panama, the Technological University of Panama, the National Secretariat of Science and Technology (SENACYT), the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MIDA), the Consumer Protection Authority and Defense of Competition, and the Agricultural Marketing Institute (IMA). Panama does not have any Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) with U.S. organizations.

Product Certification

Once the conformity assessments have been conducted, the DGNTI will issue a conformity assessment certificate. DGNTI is the only organization authorized to issue conformity assessments related to products. Other private organizations such as SGS and Bureau Veritas deal with conformity assessments on systems or procedures and can issue certificates, but only related to systems. Product certification is a matter that does burden U.S. exporters.

Accreditation

The National Council for Accreditation (CNA) created by Law 23, July 15, 1997, is the government authority in charge of all national accreditations. This Council is formed by several government organizations, including the Ministries of Commerce, Health and Agricultural Development, and the National Secretariat of Science and Technology (SENACYT). The CNA works through a technical secretariat, which is the technical body of the Council. Accreditation is mostly voluntary.

The technical secretariat appoints accreditation committees, which are groups formed by specialists from the public and private sectors.  These committees provide necessary input for CNA decisions. Accreditation is obligatory for organizations that deal with fuel laboratories and environmental testing laboratories. All other accreditations are voluntary. Accreditation can be granted in three categories: laboratories (calibration and testing), inspection organizations, and certifying organizations. As of September 2021, 62 organizations had been accredited by CNA, with several accreditation applications under review.

Publication of Technical Regulations

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry publishes all final technical norms and regulations in the Official Gazette or “Gaceta Oficial.”  Law 23 requires that the General Directorate of Standards and Industrial Technology (DGNTI) publishes all agreements, technical regulations, norms, and procedures.

Official Gazette or Gaceta Oficial

Panama, Republic of Panama

https://www.gacetaoficial.gob.pa/ Phone: +507 527-9393

Panama does not maintain a public annual regulatory agenda.

Contact Information

The WTO TBT Inquiry Point and National Information Center is:

Dirección General de Normas y Tecnología Industrial (DGNTI)

Phone: +507 560-0716

E-mail: dgnti@mici.gob.pa

Consejo Nacional de Acreditación (CNA)

Phone:  +507 560-0715

E-mail:  apolo@mici.gob.pa

http://www.cna.gob.pa/