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  • Eyes on Trade is a blog by the staff of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch (GTW) division. GTW aims to promote democracy by challenging corporate globalization, arguing that the current globalization model is neither a random inevitability nor "free trade." Eyes on Trade is a space for interested parties to share information about globalization and trade issues, and in particular for us to share our watchdogging insights with you! GTW director Lori Wallach's initial post explains it all.

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May 13, 2009

It's So Easy to Set Up A Tax Haven in Panama, Even An Intern Could Do It!

We recently told you how some of the bailed-out banks and insurance firms are pushing Congress to pass Bush's leftover NAFTA expansion with Panama – where some of them have tax shelter subsidiary corporations. As I was researching Panama's tax haven status for our recent report, I wondered just how easy it was to set up a corporation in Panama to dodge taxes. In fact, it seemed so simple, I asked Global Trade Watch's star intern Jessica to give it a try. Jessica, a college sophomore, sprung into action last week seeking to answer one question: How easy is it to set up a tax-dodging corporation in Panama?

Check out this hilarious video to see how she does. Then pass the video to your friends and family.


Decades ago, Panama explicitly crafted a "comparative advantage" in tax-evasion and money-laundering services for entities such as the bailed-out American International Group (AIG) and Mexican and Colombian narcotraffickers. Frighteningly, specific rules in the proposed U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement would remove key policy tools used to combat financial crimes – and would conflict with U.S. government efforts to combat the global economic crisis by re-regulating finance.

It seems pretty crazy that last week, President Obama announced a major campaign to crack down on tax havens and tax cheating that promotes offshoring of U.S. jobs... while his trade representative is talking up the very tax-dodging corporations' demand to pass Bush's NAFTA with Panama.

Please watch the video, pass it around to your friends and family, and tell your member of Congress to say "no" to Bush's NAFTA expansion to Panama.

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