2013-06-28 Ecuador suspends preferential trade with US over Snowden affair
Author: Ben Littler
Move will see tariffs introduced on agricultural exports
Ecuador suspends preferential trade with US over Snowden affair
Ecuador has made the surprising announcement that it is giving up its preferential trade agreement with the United States, a move which could have serious repercussions for agricultural industry. The shock news comes in the wake of the ongoing Edward Snowden affair.
The former CIA agent, turned whistle-blower, is though to be seeking asylum from Ecuador. The country is gaining something of a reputation for sheltering those involved in the leaking of government secrets and is currently housing Wikileaks’ Julian Assange in its London Embassy.
Ecuador’s Minister of Communications, Fernando Alcarado, announced the decision, saying, the country “unilaterally and irrevocably renounces…trade preferences.” He described the decision as a demonstration of Ecuador’s commitment to its values and a sign that it would not allow foreign powers to influence national sovereignty via the exertion of commercial pressure.
Ecuador, he said, “doesn’t accept…threats from anybody and it doesn’t trade its principles or give them up for commercial interests, no matter how important.”
Ecuador’s left wing president, Raffael Correa, has sought to calm concerns on the domestic front over the move, stating that the suspension of preferential trade, which will see the introduction of tariffs on exports, including broccoli and bananas, would have limited impact.
Other have been quick to disagree, pointing out that the relatively straightforward trade processes with the US have turned certain Ecuadorian enterprises into major international industries. Romiro Crespo, of Quito based Analytical Investments, said, “If commerce is restricted there’s going to be unemployment…this does not penalise the government, it penalises the people.”
Just how effective a gesture this proves to be remains to be seen of course and, currently, the prospect of Snowden, who is trapped in international limbo at Moscow airport, making it to Ecuador and one of its embassies is very small, his passport having been revoked by the US authorities.