New import restrictions save money, but create conflicts with other countries
Ecuador’s Ministry of Industry and Productivity reports that import restrictions applied in December have kept $250 million consumer dollars in the country, much of it spent on locally manufactured products.
The Government says it hopes to save more than $800 million in imports through the end of the year. Ramiro Gonzalez, Minister of Industry and Productivity, says that the first two months under the new rules have been a success. “The results prove that they help local industry to increase sales, which in turn creates growth and more jobs.”
The trade restrictions require imports in 293 categories to meet quality standards and bear new labeling. Importers claim that the new rules are expensive and are intended simply to keep products out of the country, a charge the government does not deny.
Talks continue between the government and national business groups who say that the economic damages caused by the restrictions are not counter-balanced by the gains in some business sectors. The government has agreed to postpone implementation of some import requirements, particularly in the area of raw materials, until cost – benefit assessments can be completed later this year.
In the meantime, Colombia, Ecuador’s largestt trade partner after the U.S., says it will begin putting restrictions on Ecuadorian imports if the new rules are not relaxed. Gonzalez is scheduled to talk to his Colombian counterpart later this month. The European Union has also said it was “concerned” about the new rules and said they could have a negative impact on ongoing trade negotiations between Ecuador and the E.U.
Photo captions: Ramiro Gonzalez, Ecuador Minister of Industry