QUITO, Ecuador – Ecuador said Thursday it is renouncing tariff benefits on hundreds of millions of dollars in trade that are up for renewal by the U.S. Congress.
The announcement by Communications Minister Fernando Alvarez comes at a moment when Ecuador faces U.S. pressure to avoid granting asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. Alvarez told a news conference that the trade deal had become “a new instrument of blackmail.
“In consequence, Ecuador unilaterally and irrevocably renounces said preferences.”
The program, initially meant to help Andean countries aiding in the fight against drugs, was facing an uphill fight for renewal. Alvarado did not explicitly mention a separate effort to win trade benefits under a presidential order.