Ecuador requests US to extend trade agreement

Xinhua | February 24, 2011

Ecuador requests U.S. to extend trade agreement

The Ecuadorian government on Wednesday requested the U.S. Senate to approve an extension by at least 18 months of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA), which expired 11 days ago.

Natalie Cely, coordinator minister of production, said it is important to extend the ATPDEA in order to articulate new trade strategies with the United States.

The ATPDEA benefits the Andean countries with duty-free access for their products to enter the U.S. market in return for their efforts to fight drug trafficking. The United States grants duty-free access to 750 kinds of products from Ecuador.

Cely told a local radio station that the intention of the Ecuadorian government is to "consolidate a plan B," including options to negotiate with the United States.

There are many options: one is a Trade Agreement for the Development, which will take time, another option is to seek a system of unilateral preferences involving other countries," she said.

These options are very important for Ecuador, because Colombia soon will have a Free Trade Agreement with the United States, which will reduce the possibilities of the ATPDEA to be kept only for Ecuador.

Ecuadorian exports under ATPDEA amounted 4.2 million U.S.dollars, or 70 percent of its total exports the the United States, according to official figures.

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source: Xinhua