Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Ecuador and ATPA

Connie Mack introduced a resolution to punish Ecuador by allowing the Andean Trade Promotion Act to expire in July 2013. The funny thing about it, though, is that he admits Ecuador is doing exactly what the ATPA intended, namely fight drug trafficking. Here is the United States Trade Representative's summary of the agreement:

The Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) was enacted in December 1991, to help four Andean countries (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru) in their fight against drug production and trafficking by expanding their economic alternatives.

Mack lists many things about Ecuador that he dislikes, such as attacks on media, expropriation, relations with Iran, etc. but then inserts this:

Whereas although the Ecuadoran authorities report seizing 21.5 metric tons of finished cocaine in 2011, according to the United States Department of State's 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, `Ecuador is a major transit country for illegal narcotics';

Translated, this means the Ecuadorian government is fighting drug trafficking, but drugs go through the country on their merry way to users elsewhere. This should not be terribly surprising given the country's proximity to major production countries (Ecuador does not grow any appreciable amount of coca). I can guarantee you will not hear Mack criticize the Honduran government for drug transit, but it is the exact same situation.

The U.S. Congress can certainly stop giving Ecuador trade preferences for whatever reason it wants, but at the very least the debate should be put in the context of the original--and non-ideological--intent of the legislation.


jsol 3:24 PM  

This comes coincidentally at a time when Ecuador is considering granting asylum to Julian Assange, an action that would single out Ecuador as a country that (unlike the UK, Australia and Sweden) does not do what the US says.

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