Outgoing Ecuador trade minister presses for deal with U.S.

The Ecuadorian Trade Minister Iván Ontaneda hopes to get his country and the United States on the path to a free trade agreement after only a short term in office. In an interview with Morning Trade, Ontaneda said a deal would help put Ecuador on a level playing field with Colombia and Peru, its two Andean neighbors, who already have free trade agreements with the United States.

Its drive, however, comes amid a runoff election in which left-wing economist Andrés Arauz leads his conservative rival Guillermo Lasso by nearly 10 points, according to a poll conducted earlier this month. Arauz is the candidate of former President Rafael Correa’s Union of Hope party, which favors government-led development projects and social spending, largely financed through raw material exports. The current Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno has reversed many of Correa’s guidelines and opted for a more market-based approach.

GSP Not Enough: Still, Ontaneda believes that any candidate who wins in April wants to start talks on a free trade agreement with the US. Ecuador currently has duty-free access for many goods under the Generalized System of Preferences program, but this is not as comprehensive as a free trade agreement would be.

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