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
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.
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.
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.
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
Use ePing to review proposed technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures
The ePing SPS&TBT platform (https://epingalert.org/), or “ePing”, provides access to notifications made by WTO Members under the Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), distributed by the WTO from January 16, 1995 to present. ePing is available to all stakeholders free of charge and does not require registration unless the user wishes to receive customized e-mail alerts. Use it to browse notifications on past as well as new draft and updated product regulations, food safety and animal and plant health standards and regulations, find information on trade concerns discussed in the WTO SPS and TBT Committees, locate information on SPS/TBT Enquiry Points and notification authorities, and to follow and review current and past notifications concerning regulatory actions on products, packaging, labeling, food safety and animal and plant health measures in markets of interest.
Notify U.S., operated and maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) since 2003 to distribute and provide access to notifications (and associated draft texts) made under the WTO TBT Agreement for US stakeholders, has reached its end of life. Per obligation under the TBT Agreement, each WTO Member operates a national TBT (and an SPS) Enquiry Point. National TBT Enquiry Points are authorized to accept comments and official communications from other national TBT Enquiry Points, which are NOT part of the WTO or the WTO Secretariat. All comment submissions from U.S. stakeholders, including businesses, trade associations, U.S domiciled standards development organizations and conformity assessment bodies, consumers, or U.S. government agencies on notifications to the WTO TBT Committee should be sent directly to the USA WTO TBT Inquiry Point. Refer to the comment guidance at https://tsapps.nist.gov/notifyus/data/guidance/guidance.cfm for further information.
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
Phone: +507 527-9393
Panama does not maintain a public annual regulatory agenda.
The WTO TBT Inquiry Point and National Information Center is:
Dirección General de Normas y Tecnología Industrial (DGNTI)
Phone: +507 560-0716
Consejo Nacional de Acreditación (CNA)
Phone: +507 560-0715