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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ecuador asks OAS to pursuade U.S. to extend preferential trade treatment

People's Daily Online, 6/6/07

Ecuador has asked the Organization of American States (OAS) to intercede with the United States for the extension of preferential tariff legislation for Andean nations, Ecuador's foreign ministry said Tuesday.

Ecuadoran Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa presented the request to OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza in Panama City, where the OAS is holding its general assembly, the foreign minister said in a statement.

Insulza promised to use his good relationship with the U.S. Congress, the statement added.

The U.S. gave preferential tariffs to Colombia and Bolivia in 1992 and to Ecuador and Peru in 1993 to encourage them to crack down on drug production. The measures expired at the end of 2006, but were renewed for six months.

Ecuador has expressed its concern that the U.S. would exclude it from the tariff benefits because Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa has said he will not renew contract for the Manta military base in 2009.

Correa's government argues that the U.S. should continue renew the legislation providing preferential tariffs while Ecuador continues to fight drugs.

Espinosa said earlier she would discuss the tariffs issue with her U.S. counterpart, Condoleezza Rice.

Colombia and Peru have both signed separate free trade agreements with the United Stated, but neither has come into force because they have not been ratified by the U.S. Congress.

Ecuador and Bolivia did not sign planned free trade agreements with Washington, saying the terms on offer were prejudicial.

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