A team of Ecuadoran trade negotiators announced plans to meet with US officials to plan steps for setting up a free-trade agreement between the two countries. They intend to define dates and methodology for an agreement process to commence possibly in the middle of this year.
Banco Central director Mauricio Yepez headed up the seven-member Ecuadoran team on its trip to Washington where members met with the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) and Treasury Secretary John Snow. Ecuadoran Minister of Foreign Trade Ivonne Baki met previously with US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick and spoke with him about advances in resolving litigation with US businesses that operate in the Andean country. The elimination of these conflicts is a condition the US demands if Ecuador is to remain a beneficiary of preferential tariff arrangements for Andean states and if conversations about a free-trade agreement are to open up.
Baki said the White House had agreed to wait until March for the resolution of the litigation, which involves the interests of Bellsouth, IBM, and Duke Energy.
The US government has been seeking to forge bilateral deals with individual countries …