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Ecuador suspends preferential trade with US over Snowden affair

Move will see tariffs introduced on agricultural exports
Ecuador suspends preferential trade with US over Snowden affair

Ecuador has made the surprising announcement that it is giving up its preferential trade agreement with the United States, a move which could have serious repercussions for agricultural industry. The shock news comes in the wake of the ongoing Edward Snowden affair.

The former CIA agent, turned whistle-blower, is though to be seeking asylum from Ecuador. The country is gaining something of a reputation for sheltering those involved in the leaking of government secrets and is currently housing Wikileaks’ Julian Assange in its London Embassy.

Ecuador’s Minister of Communications, Fernando Alcarado, announced the decision, saying, the country “unilaterally and irrevocably renounces…trade preferences.” He described the decision as a demonstration of Ecuador’s commitment to its values and a sign that it would not allow foreign powers to influence national sovereignty via the exertion of commercial pressure.

Ecuador, he said, “doesn’t accept…threats from anybody and it doesn’t trade its principles or give them up for commercial interests, no matter how important.”

Ecuador’s left wing president, Raffael Correa, has sought to calm concerns on the domestic front over the move, stating that the suspension of preferential trade, which will see the introduction of tariffs on exports, including broccoli and bananas, would have limited impact.

Other have been quick to disagree, pointing out that the relatively straightforward trade processes with the US have turned certain Ecuadorian enterprises into major international industries. Romiro Crespo, of Quito based Analytical Investments, said, “If commerce is restricted there’s going to be unemployment…this does not penalise the government, it penalises the people.”

Just how effective a gesture this proves to be remains to be seen of course and, currently, the prospect of Snowden, who is trapped in international limbo at Moscow airport, making it to Ecuador and one of its embassies is very small, his passport having been revoked by the US authorities.

Publication date: 6/28/2013
Author: Ben Littler

EC suspends emergency payments for fruit and vegetables

EC suspends emergency payments for fruit and vegetables

The European Commission has today suspended the emergency market measures for perishable fruit and vegetable markets (worth 125 million €) announced on August 18 in the wake of the Russian measures banning imports of certain EU agricultural products. There has been strong interest from the sectors concerned, but the scheme has to be closed due to a disproportionate surge in claims – for example where the figures submitted for some products are several times higher than the total EU average annual exports to Russia.

In order to prolong the effectiveness of the emergency measures and still achieve the objective of stabilising the markets for these products in all Member States affected by the Russian embargo, the European Commission will come forward with a more targeted scheme in the near future, taking into account the experience of the past weeks.

European Commission Dacian Cioloş stated: “The European Commission remains committed to support those producers who have suddenly lost an important market because of the Russian measures. I intend to present a new scheme in the coming days which is more targeted and efficient and which will continue on from this scheme.”

Publication date: 9/11/2014

Dairy Giant Fonterra Suspends Operations in Sri Lanka Following Contamination Report

New Zealand dairy company Fonterra on Friday temporarily halted operations in Sri Lanka after health authorities there found a toxic agricultural chemical in two batches of milk powder.

Fonterra is already dealing with a botulism controversy in China that put New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in damage-control mode of assuring Chinese customers his government would investigate the issue and ensure that the company corrected it.

A group of approximately 200 Sri Lankan demonstrators protested outside Fonterra’s Sri Lankan facilities on Thursday. The company said it suspended operations to protect the safety of its 755 employees.

Fonterra has disputed Sri Lanka’s findings of two samples contaminated with the chemical dicyandiamide. Regardless, it recalled its Anchor full-cream milk powder and the Anchor 1+ milk powder for children.

A district court in Sri Lanka had ordered Fonterra not to sell its products earlier in the week, but it lifted that order on Friday.

Food Safety News

Russia suspends import of EU potatoes

Russia suspends import of EU potatoes

Russia has temporarily banned potato imports from the EU. An official letter from Russian authorities has been sent to the European Commission’s Director for Health and Consumer Protection, Eric Poodle, explaining that the country finds European phytosanitary regulations unsatisfactory.

The situation comes about as a result of an earlier finding of a golden potato nematode in a potato shipment originating in the Netherlands.


Publication date: 7/2/2013