Background

The U.S. and Ecuador have agreed to explore expanding a protocol on trade rules and transparency that went into effect in August 2021.

According to a press release from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the two sides will establish a fair trade working group and explore potential negotiations on labor, the environment, and digital trade. They will also consider possible sectoral approaches in future engagement. USTR said the new negotiations “intend to pursue a worker-centered trade policy that fosters greater trade, investment, and cooperation between both countries.”

The protocol updated a 1990 trade and investment agreement by adding provisions on trade facilitation and customs administration, good regulatory practices, anti-corruption, and small and medium-sized enterprises. It did not include any measures with respect to Ecuador purchasing more U.S. goods or taking other measures to help lower its approximately $1.4 billion trade surplus with the U.S. It also did not affect any tariffs between the two countries or address Ecuador’s import licensing regime, which the U.S. said it would make a continuing focus in future talks.

USTR noted that the two sides also recently discussed the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity. The U.S. announced this initiative in June, saying it would build on the free trade agreements the U.S. already has with countries in Latin America and include other “likeminded economic partners.” However, neither the White House nor USTR has since provided any further information on the details of this initiative or which countries might be involved.

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