Investmentissues, intellectual property and the trials in which US companies are immersedare some ‘sensitive issues’ that Ecuador and the United States will discuss inWashington in the Council of Commerce and Investments (TIC, for its acronym inEnglish).
The local delegation will travel tomorrow (November 13, 2018) to that country and will be headed by the Minister of Foreign Trade, Pablo Campana. The TIC meeting, which will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, is the first in nine years between the two countries.
Eight officials will travel through the public sector. In addition to Campana, delegates from the Chancellery, Ministry of Agriculture, ProEcuador, Senescyt, among others will attend. This last entity is key for the issue of intellectual property, one of the aspects that worries Washington, said Campana, although he did not elaborate.
Twenty-two delegates will be in the private sector, among those who are directors of the Chambers of Industries and Commerce of Quito and Guayaquil; of the Business Committee, of Corpei, of Fedexport, besides a representative of the textile sector. On Wednesday the meeting will be held between the businessmen of both nations.
For USA Members of the Americas Society and Council of the Americas (AS / COA) will participate, which visited the country in May of this year. “It is very likely that the representatives of the Department of Foreign Trade, the Department of State and the US Chancellery will attend this event,” explained Campana.
Instead, on Thursday, the appointment will be reserved between representatives of the two governments. The authorities foresee an analysis of the commercial relationship. The aspects that may be sensitive in difficult terms will also be analyzed. “There may be issues prosecuted, including, that they have to follow their process.” Campana commented that Ecuador will present a firm position to achieve a fair and equitable bilateral trade agreement for the parties.
With an agreement, he said, it will be inevitable to address the issue of international arbitration and trials in cases of disputes. For Patricio Alarcón, president of the Business Committee, some ‘irritants’ must be solved that could stop investment and trade.
Among them, the intellectual property, the tax on the exit of currencies (ISD for its acronym in Spanish), the acceptance of arbitration processes, the Chevron case, the trial against the pharmaceutical Merck Sharp & Dohme, etc.
For Ecuador, it is essential to set a schedule and a periodic work agenda that includes meetings in the USA and in the country to reach a treaty. Xavier Rosero, technical head of Fedexpor, stressed that a key pending issue is to renegotiate the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), which was denounced last year by the previous government.
In addition, in the chapter on investments that the commercial agreement must have, the provisions of the BIT will be reinforced. Last year, Ecuador received US investments for USD 35 million. It is a minimum amount compared to other economies in the region such as Colombia, which received USD 2 100 million.
US investments in the country they are widely diversified, although they have more strength in the areas of trade, services for companies, agriculture and manufacturing. Rosero assured that the geostrategic position and the logistics infrastructure give Ecuador a high potential.
For David Lewis, vice president of the foreign trade consultancy Manchester Trade, USA seeks legal security to invest in the country and considers that having a BIT is key before starting any negotiation for an agreement. In Washington there are other issues that concern. The USTR (United States Trade Representative), in the chapter on Ecuador of its report Comments on Barriers to Trade and Exports of the US, of October 17, indicates that the Ecuadorian State grants preferences to state enterprises, for example, to the public firm Corporación Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (CNT) in the participation for public auctions.
Thattype of “preferences”, according to the USTR, is a limitation for USinvestments. For Campana, there is misinformation on the subject because thatcompany provides services like others installed in the country. “Ecuadorgives the same treatment to foreign investment as to local”. He alsohighlighted that Ecuador is a country that considers the attraction ofinvestments as a State policy. “Any disinformation there is, anydiscomfort that we have will treat it,” he said. (I)