STATEMENT FROM AMBASSADOR NATHALIE CELY REGARDING THE USTR’S SIXTH REPORT TO THE CONGRESS ON THE OPERATION OF THE ANDEAN TRADE PREFERENCE ACTWednesday, July 4th, 2012
The Embassy of Ecuador to the United States is pleased that the USTR found that the ATPA/ATPDEA continues to provide important strategic benefits for the wellbeing of the people of Ecuador and the United States. In addition, we are pleased that once again, consistent with identical findings in all prior reports by USTR since the APTA/ATPDEA program began in 1991, Ecuador was found to meet all the statutory eligibility requirements to remain a beneficiary country. Thanks to the ATPDEA and the healthy collaboration between our two countries, the region is becoming a more secure and prosperous place for all our people. As the report shows, economic opportunities for both countries have increased greatly because of the ATPDEA- helping grow jobs in Ecuador and the U.S. There also remains strong bilateral cooperation to reduce the trafficking of illicit drugs.
Due to the ATPDEA and a strong Ecuadorian economy, the report finds that last year U.S. businesses exported $5.5 billion in goods to Ecuador, an increase of 10% from 2010. According to the report, imports of Ecuadorian goods to the U.S. also increased approximately 30%, which has helped Ecuadorian companies increase minimum wages from $170/month in 2007 to $292/month in 2012. The USTR also recognizes that Ecuador has further curtailed the illegal practice of child labor– the number of children working illegally fell from 550,000 in 2001 to 367,000 in 2006.
Furthermore, we are also pleased with the report’s findings that Ecuador is not a drug-producing country, and that we continue to work closely with the U.S. and our neighbors to reduce the trafficking of illicit drugs. Yesterday, President Juan Manuel Santos from Colombia publicly thanked Ecuador’s efforts and cooperation with Colombia in its efforts to secure the north-south border, a key factor in reducing drug trafficking across the Americas.
Finally, the report affirms that Ecuador continues to meet all ATPDEA eligibility criteria, including that the government “continues to participate in pending international arbitration cases.” We are pleased that this finding validates Ecuador’s complete and total commitment to honoring its international obligations, despite attempts by independent interest groups to further their own personal interests by casting doubt on both this commitment and the mutually beneficial effects of the ATPDEA. Through the ATPDEA and other ongoing forms of bilateral and people-to-people cooperation between the U.S. and Ecuador, we look forward to continuing in our common efforts to make the Americas a strong, vibrant, and safe place.