Government may backpedal on some tariffs, conceding that ‘mistakes may have been made’; Peru asks for tariff consultation

Mar 17, 2015 | 4 comments

Admitting that “mistakes may have been made,” Ecuador’s Ministry of Foreign Trade says it is reviewing tariffs on a number of imported products, especially raw materials needed for local manufacturing. Trade minister Diego Aulestia declined to say which imports might be affected but said, “There will be reviews in some cases due to information that has recently been brought to our attention.”

Ecuador trade minister Diego Aulestia met with business leaders on Monday.

Ecuador trade minister Diego Aulestia, left, met with business leaders on Monday to discuss tariffs.

In addition to raw materials, business officials and some national assembly members are asking for tariff reductions on products including school supplies, textiles, computer and telephone equipment, food products, and musical instruments.

The government conceded that the consequences of the tariffs on some imports may not have been adequately studied before they were imposed on March 11.  “Among the 2,900 products that have received the added tax, it is natural that some may have slipped through by mistake. We are conducting a review and adjustments will be made where necessary,” Aulestias said.

The new tariffs, ranging from 5% to 45%, were applied, according the ministry, to protect the Ecuadorian economy from a reduction in oil revenue and a strong U.S. dollar.

Representatives from the communications industry, textile manufacturers and the national Chamber of Commerce, met with the trade ministry Monday to present their cases for tariff reduction or elimination on some imports. Several members of the National Assembly also attended.

National Assemblywoman Cristina Reyes asked the ministry to exclude tariffs on a variety of school supplies.

Meanwhile, the Peruvian government is asking the ministry for an exemption of tariffs on Peruvian products.

The move follows a complaint from the Lima Chamber of Commerce which said that 1,166 exports to Ecuador would be affected by the tariffs. “The number represents 31% of all exports to Ecuador, which accounted for $268 million in 2014,” said Carlos Posada, executive director of the Research Institute Foreign Trade and Development. “This is large portion of Peru’s trade with Ecuador and represents a very serious situation.”

Photo credit: El Comercio

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