Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ecuador Tells US To Take Its Trade Agreement And Shove It, After Threats Relayed Over Snowden

from the wow dept

One of the points that many people have made concerning most countries in the world is that they're loathe to challenge the US on many things, even when they're in the right, because they're so reliant on the US for trade. The US regularly lords this fact over countries in seeking to get its way. In fact, US officials had been very strongly suggesting to Ecuador that if it decides to take in Ed Snowden and grant him asylum, that there could be consequences for trade under the Andean Trade Preference Act that both countries are signed to, but which needs to be renewed next month. Specifically, US politicians suggested that they might not allow the renewal if Ecuador granted asylum.

In response, Ecuador has taken a stand: saying that it's breaking the trade agreement upfront as it doesn't appreciate the attempt by the US to blackmail it in this matter.
President Rafael Correa's government said on Thursday it was renouncing the Andean Trade Preference Act to thwart US "blackmail" of Ecuador in the former NSA contractor's asylum request.

Officials, speaking at an early morning press conference, also offered a $23m donation for human rights training in the US, a brash riposte to recent US criticism of Ecuador's own human rights record.
Furthermore, they made it quite clear that this is entirely about the US' actions in trying to pressure them about Snowden:
"Ecuador does not accept pressure or threats from anyone, nor does it trade with principles or submit them to mercantile interests, however important those may be," said Fernando Alvarado, the communications secretary.

"Ecuador gives up, unilaterally and irrevocably, the said customs benefits."
As the article notes, some of this is surely political. It is a bit of a populist move by the government, and many suspected that the trade agreement was unlikely to be renewed anyway by the US, so in some ways this is an attempt to get out in front of that story and pull something of a "you can't fire me, I quit!" move. Still, it highlights, once again, the way the US bullies smaller countries, and how that can backfire.

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