Ecuador launches efforts to renew FTA negotiations with U.S.
QUITO, April 14 (Xinhua) — Ecuador’s government launched on Friday a series of steps aiming to re-start Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with the United States as soon as possible, officials said.
Luis Gallegos, the Ecuadorian Ambassador in Washington, is in contact with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative at the White House, under the guidance of Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Francisco Carrion.
Ecuadorian President Alfredo Palacio has called a meeting for next Monday with members of the negotiating team to define a political and diplomatic strategy.
The Ecuadorian government hopes to have the next round of FTA negotiations on May 8 in Washington — if it manages to pass an amendment bill to the Hydrocarbons Law. But the legislation is being staunchly opposed by private oil firms.
Manuel Chiriboga, Ecuador’s chief FTA negotiator, said his country was making every effort to renew talks with the United States and was waiting for a specific date for their resumption. This ultimately has to be decided by the United States.
The United States started FTA negotiations with the three Andean countries of Peru, Colombia and Ecuador in May 2004 and hassettled pacts with Peru and Colombia. The latest round of negotiations between the U.S. and Ecuador finished last month, amid strong protests from indigenous Indian communities. These people, who account for about 34 percent of the Ecuadorian population, fear that the inflow of cheap U.S. agricultural products brought by an FTA will hurt the Indian farmers’ livelihoods.