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Ecuador Rejects Tuna Trade Benefits In Exchange For Snowden

Tuna is to face a 15.6 percent tax increase in the United States after Ecuador has announced its decision to reject trade benefits and inject millions of dollars into human rights programs in the U.S.

The announcement came after the U.S. threatened to take away trade preferences from Ecuador following their agreement to grant asylum to National Security Agency ‘whistle-blower’, Edward Snowden.

Minister of Communication, Fernando Alvarado said at a news conference: “Ecuador does not accept pressure or threats from anyone and does not negotiate its principles or submit to commercial pressure — as important as it might be. Ecuador renounces, unilaterally and irrevocably, those trade preferences.”

The United States Congress allows Ecuadorean goods worth USD 223 million to enter the country tax free under the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA), but with renewal of the deal up in July, has suggested the agreement may be at risk if Ecuador granted the requested asylum of Snowden.

But Ecuador has refused to agree to the United States’ proposal to reject the asylum request, and canned tuna faces a 15.6 percent tax tariff come August 1.

The Ecuadorian President, Rafael Correa, spoke for the nation in saying: “Our dignity does not have a price.”

Alvarado has declared that Ecuador will send the USD 23 million that is saved per year by the trade preferences of various products including tuna to the U.S. for it to be spent on programs to promote and improve human rights of those living in the USA.

The trade announcement will have huge effects on the business community in Ecuador with the U.S. being its largest trading partner, buying USD 9 billion in goods last year.

Felipe Ribadeneira, the Executive Director of the Federation of Exports in Ecuador, said: “We don’t have the luxury to give up a single dollar of trade, this decision worries us greatly. Exporters had been lobbying Congress to have goods that benefit from ATPDEA be reclassified under the Generalized System of Preferences. Unfortunately, I think all the work we did to try to make that happen is now at risk.”

But, with Snowden wanted by the U.S. authorities on criminal espionage charges, Ecuador has put the human rights of Snowden as upmost priority, and by acknowledging his asylum request creates an unsteady future with their largest trading partner. Latest news is that Ecuador, after have been receiving advice from the European Union, might review its decision to take up Snowden.  The whistle-blower is currently still stuck in the transit lounge of the Moscow airport.