Congress has voted to approve a free trade agreement with Panama, a country of less than 4 million that still carries economic weight because of the Panama Canal.
The House and Senate both voted by wide margins to approve the Panama agreement, which is the smallest of three trade agreements being completed by Congress Wednesday. The other two are with South Korea and Colombia.
The United States last year exported $6 billion worth of goods to Panama and has minimal imports from that country. But the trade deal will make it easier for U.S. companies to compete for contracts in Panama's $5.25 billion expansion of the canal.
The agreement also strengthens banking transparency in Panama, which has been known as a tax haven.