Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ecuador unilaterally cancels beneficial trade pact with U.S., saying "we don't tolerate pressure from anyone"

Tough language in Quito

Guadalajara -
Ecuador today announced this morning it has "unilaterally and irrevocably" canceled its participation in the U.S. Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA), and offered to pay about $23 million in duties which it will owe annually on Ecuadorian exports to the United States.

ATPDEA was enacted by Congress in 2002, replacing the Andean Trade Preference Act of 1991, which became law during the George H.W. Bush administration. Under the act the United States grants duty-free access to many products from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. ATPDEA was designed to promote economic development in Andean nations, and above all to provide alternatives to drug production in those countries, especially cocaine.

In 2006, 39% of U.S. imports from Ecuador were covered by ATPDEA, according to a Congressional report. A report by the United States International Trade Commission the same year said the act had had minimal impact on the U.S. economy, and only a small positive effect on drug production and trafficking in the region.

Ecuador's secretary of communication Fernando Alvarado made the announcement this morning in Quito, with some firm words for Washington.

"In the face of threats, insolence and the arrogance of some politicians (in the U.S.), the government of that country is being pressured to eliminate Ecuador's trade preferences under ATPDEA.

"Ecuador doesn't tolerate pressures or threats from anybody, and doesn't bargain with its principles or negotiate based on its own commercial interests, no matter how important those may be.

"Ecuador would remind the world that the trade preferences were originally awarded to the Andean nations as just compensation for our struggle against the drug trade, but they quickly became an instrument of manipulation.

"Our dignity and national honor are not for sale at any price. Consequently, Ecuador hereby cancels the duty free trade preferences of ATPDEA, unilaterally and irrevocably.

"Moreover, Ecuador offers to pay to the United States $23 million annually - the fair value of duties owed on our exports to the U.S. - which funds were intended (by both sides) to be applied to the promotion of human rights and the training of judicial and legal personnel in this country to that end."

Today's decision comes as Ecuador prepares to make a decision on the application for political asylum filed several days ago by former NSA security contractor Edward Snowden. Snowden, a fugitive from U.S. justice, faces charges under the infamous Espionage Act of 1917, which could land him a sentence of death or life imprisonment. He remains in a no man's land in Moscow's airport, with his fate now in the hands of several nations, including Ecuador, Venezuela and possibly Iceland.

Fn. According to the United Nations Office on Crimes and Drugs (UNODC), most South American produced cocaine is destined for U.S. markets, and is sold to American consumers. Almost all of it passes through Mexico in route.

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© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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