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

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65 Comments
Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

The Economic Grievance.

Ecuador and Venezuela, and other countries of South America, are eager to welcome dissidents such as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden because they already have longstanding economic grievances against the United States. They were willing to forgive a dictator like Hugo Chavez a number of sins because he articulated their economic grievances.

One thing which emerges is that the United States is increasingly “needy” in its economic relationships with large parts of the world. The United States is not the world’s manufacturing floor anymore. That is China. One might add that India has become the world’s “back office.”

As a general rule, a country with a population density of two hundred people per square mile or less can produce enough food and raw materials to supply itself, and to export something besides. Failure to do so is usually a sign of poor management. The United States imports oil because, for essentially political reasons, we have failed to switch our transportation over to electricity. Most of the countries of South America are not natural trading partners with the United States. When an Ecuadorian wants beef, he does not have to buy American grain, still less American frozen beef. He sends cattle down into the jungle, to eat the bark off the trees, deer-fashion, and to gradually transform the land into savanna (tropical prairie), which they can graze in the usual manner. The vaquero takes along a chain saw, and cuts down trees to bring their leafy tops within the cattle’s reach, helping the process along. It’s basically a case of learning to make what you want out of what you have.

As for intellectual property, foreigners in general are profoundly unresponsive to the idea that they should pay large sums for off-the-shelf items which can easily be copied for pennies, when the United States shows little or no interest in purchasing such intellectual property as these countries might produce.

These countries tend to develop pervasive senses of economic grievance. The United States wants to wage war on their soil against the production of drugs; the United States wants them to pay sizable royalties on intellectual property, and again it wants to wage war on their soil to that end; the United States wants them to give favored treatment to American companies like McDonalds and Wal-Mart, rather than encouraging native businesses; and, in order not to offend the American farm vote, the only agricultural goods the United States will accept are those for which it lacks a suitable climate, or which require overwhelming quantities of hand-labor.

Ecuador, like Venezuela, gets most of its foreign-exchange from oil. It doesn’t have very much oil, but it doesn’t have very many automobiles, either, and there is an exportable surplus. Oil is famously fungible– it can easily be sold to China or Brazil if the United States will not buy it.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The US is used to playing Goliath to every
other country’s David

Metaphors aren’t your strong point are they?

If they U.S. was playing Goliath to every other country’s David, every other country would be killing the U.S., since that’s what David did to Goliath.

You’re essentially saying, the U.S. government is used to losing every confrontation.

Rich Fiscus (profile) says:

This is a perfect example of something I’ve been telling people for years now. It applies to everything from IP and trade to faux national security issues like this.

The power elite in the US are used to getting whatever they want by just twisting arms because they come from the post-WWII era when other countries really did need the US. That hasn’t been true for quite some time now but because their counterparts in other countries didn’t understand that for many years it has continued to work. The citizens, on the other hand, have been much quicker to grasp the changing reality and they’re doing their own arm twisting.

Actual policy change has been slow but political disruption is fundamentally no different than economic disruption. It starts small and appears to be inconsequential to the players at the top but once it gathers steam a handful of pebbles quickly turns into an unavoidable landslide. This is simply a glimpse of the landslide that’s been growing for at least 25 years.

Anonymous Coward says:

bloody good job Ecuador! the USA are very fond of trying to pull this type of bullying stunt. and it’s about time that they were told what to do and where to go! what the hell does the USA think it is? it’s a country, just like any other! it pulls all sorts of shit on any and every country it feels like and expects those countries to always buckle under. i hope there are a lot more do the same and damn quick! no good ever comes from an enforced ‘agreement’. sooner or later, the oppressed gets pissed off enough to fight back and it’s not before time here! just waiting now to see if the EU stands up, grows a pair and tells the USA to fuck off as well!! trade is good for countries that can do so openly. when that trade is one way and better for one country or one industry within one country, that isn’t trade by any stretch of the imagination!!

The Real Michael says:

Re: Re:

The only way for the US to back a country like Ecuador into a corner is through economic means, but if the latter rescinds its trade agreement, the former loses its leverage. So, what has this blatant attempt at blackmail accomplished besides making us look like bullies on the world stage? Not only does Snowden walk free (he shouldn’t have been pursued anyway) but we’ve just lost a trading partner — that’s two birds with one stone. Washington is left with egg on its face.

Great foreign policy. /sarc

Aztecian says:

I know.

Yeah, this is pretty obvious populism whether or not it is sincere.

But I like it. Maybe it’s shallow and simple of me, but it looks and sounds exactly like a leader standing on principle… so I’ll just do the “if it quacks like a duck…” think and pretend it is.

I’ll also wait patiently and confidently for the inevitable news flashes about how evil Ecuador is.

Here lately, that’s The American Way.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Stop and think

If democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch, then American democracy is 3 wolves and 4 lambs voting, except the wolves count as 3 votes because they live in the countryside across three different states, and all 4 lambs live clumped together in a city so their vote only counts as one.

Or something like that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Stop and think

It isn’t /my/ power base even though I’m a citizen. It is the crooks perverting the course of mutual interests. Hard as it may be for the sociopaths to get pillaging and tribute taking isn’t the best option, cooperation is. The sooner they aren’t bullies making the world worse the better for all of us. The more destroyed they are the harder it is to justify the unjustifiable. I don’t give a damn if it would help me, I don’t stand by evil.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ecuadorian pissing contest

Who do you think is going to win a pissing competition between the US and Ecuador ?

Ecuador has a MASSIVE export market into the US, mainly farm produce, so the people who are going to lose out here are the small produce farmers, NOT the politicians, and yes American consumers (again not politicians).

$10 Billion per year PLUS, Ecuador exports to the US, and again, it’s the poor farmers who can NOT afford it’s Government playing pissing contests with America, they just want to sell their produce.

So the puppet game has already started for Snowden, he now has the knowledge that his actions have made the life of many Ecuadorian farmers much harder, but of course not hurting the politicians one bit..

Way to go Ecuador, fuck over your workers so you can poke Snowden’s dick in the eye of the US..

Sure, the ONLY thing the US really sends to Ecuador is MONEY, it’s not like that is an important commodity for Ecuadorian lower classes.

So the ONLY people to be hurt by this is Ecuadorian citizens (not politicians), and you think this is a good thing ?

Rapnel (profile) says:

Re: Ecuadorian pissing contest

It really kind of looks like Equador’s choice here, mister. I’m not sure why you’re all aggro about what they’ve chosen to date and playing like the US had no hand in this. It’s, well, it’s almost as if you think they should hand over something that they haven’t even got and pretend it’s not their choice to make. Unless, of course, you’d like to go down there and run for president and fix this all up all nice and tidy like and have Equador become the bitch you clearly think that they should be, yes?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Ecuadorian pissing contest

“Who’s going to win a pissing competition? Not YOU, darryl!”

Good, I’m not interested in a pissing competition between Ecuador’s present and the US Government, especially neither of those 2 groups will be hurt of benefit for it.

Sure, the population of Ecuador will lose out, regardless, Snowden will lose out, American consumers will lose out, but the POLITICIANS will win, (in some circles).

At lease Ecuador learnt some kind of lesson by taking on Assange, I feel they are regretting that decision now, it is CERTAINLY a major factor being considered in granting Snowden asylum quite simple, if the refuse it, it will be due to Assange’s actions.

And NO, Ecuador will NOT ‘just smuggle’ those goods into the US.

Anonymous Coward says:

Correa

“He appears to be weighing the political and public relations benefits against the real consequences for Ecuador’s economy, should he grant the asylum request.”

So who is saying now that Snowden is not a PAWN, a plaything for politicians to gain political points. If you think it about some righteous ‘freedom’ thing, you are an idiot, it’s NOT about that at all.

It’s about who can gain the MOST FOR HIMSELF, at the (great) expense to Snowden.

“The Ecuadorans got word that renewal of ATPDEA was a long shot in any case, so instead of waiting for rejection, they took the initiative and the high road,” said Michael Shifter, of the Inter-American Dialogue.

oh I see, they expected to lose that agreement anyway, so why not try to make some political gains out of it.

Even before the Snowden affair the president tried to soothe Ecuadoreans that losing the trade preferences, which exclude thousands of products such as roses, tuna and broccoli from export duty, would have a small impact.

“This will have serious consequence for Ecuadorean producers,” said Ramiro Crespo, director general of Analytica Investments, a Quito-based consultancy.

“These products which are exported to the United States have become major industries in Ecuador. If commerce is restricted there’s going to be unemployment ? This does not penalise the government, it penalises the people.”

Some in the government are believed to be annoyed that Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who has sheltered at Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid extradition, has seized the limelight in the Snowden saga. Assange caught Quito by surprise last week when he announced Snowden had been given a safe conduct pass. Quito replaced its ambassador to London earlier this month in hope of better managing its famous guest.

Now Assange is giving them the shits, how long do you think that will last for ?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Thanks Ecuador

“Ecuador is now one of my most favourite countries in the world.”

I expect you would not hold the same belief if you actually LIVED there, particularly if you are part of the deep poverty there, or a farmer about to lose his small income, because their left-wing prime minister wants to gain political points for himself.

Notice HOW LITTLE this has to do with Snowden, or Assange, they are just pawns in a much large game they neither understand or endorse.

All this righteous bullshit is out the window, no mention of the actual message, lets make the news about the messengers, and the politicians who wish to make political gains from this.
And you think that is great !!

I wonder if you think Ecuador is still the best country in the world when they eject Assange, when the political climate to do that is to their advantage ?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Three cheers!

Bravo to Ecuador for turning it into a political points gaining game, that is ONLY for THEIR advantage, that has NOTHING to do with righteous, freedom fighting, publicity hungry ‘leakers’.

Thankyou Ecuador for deflecting from the message that was supposed to be the real issue and making it about using Assange and Snowden for career advancement and political play things.

Bravo to Ecuador for ejecting Assange, and throwing him to the hounds with it is in their political advantage to do so.

Does anyone actually remember what was leaked ?? Didn’t think so.

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