Negotiators for a trade agreement between Ecuador and the European Union say they are close to reaching a final deal but continue to discuss several key issues.
Ecuador’s Foreign Trade Minister Diego Aulestia says he is confident that final details can be worked out soon and that the trade agreement will go into affect by the end of the year. Aulestia returned to Ecuador Monday from Brussels where he met with representatives of the EU and worked with the head EU negotiator Peter Schwaiger.
Several issues remain to be resolved, including import surcharges that Ecuador applied to most imported goods last year. EU negotiators want assurance that the surcharges, which range up to 45% of the cost of products, are eliminated in June, as planned, and not be reimposed. Ecuador added the surcharges last year to combat the effects of the strong U.S. dollar.
Other sticking points involve cars and liquor. Representatives of European distillers want special consumption taxes removed from their products sold in Ecuador, saying they put an unfair burden on customers. At the same time, European car makers want quotas eliminated that control the number of cars that can be imported to Ecuador.
Schwaiger also said he wanted a guarantee from Ecuador that it would abide by all rules of the World Trade Organization.