Press release: Continued reform would improve resilience and
sustain economic growth
The first Trade Policy Review of Ecuador has shed light on Ecuador's
trade and investment policies and practices, and on the economic and
institutional framework within which they are formulated and
implemented. We owe this to the participation of Vice-Minister
Espinosa, Ambassador Escudero, and the rest of the Ecuadorean
delegation; the thoughtful interventions by Ambassador de Mateo; the
questions of the Members; the documentation prepared for the meeting;
and the domestic consultation and review process that underlie this
documentation. Throughout the review process, the authorities of
Ecuador have shown a strong commitment to transparency and thus made a
key contribution to the success of this Review.
I should first like to emphasize that Members welcomed the positive
performance of Ecuador's economy in recent years, as reflected by the
growth in per capita income, low inflation and the reduction in public
debt. These achievements were attributed to both domestic reforms and
a favourable external context, and followed a series of adverse
developments in the latter part of the 1990s. Members encouraged
Ecuador to maintain fiscal discipline and persevere with its
structural reform programme to make the economy more resilient to
future external shocks.
Members acknowledged Ecuador's efforts to strengthen its legal and
institutional framework. They commended Ecuador for taking significant
steps to implement its WTO commitments but noted that Ecuador could
further enhance transparency by fulfilling its outstanding WTO
notification obligations. Members took note of the importance that
Ecuador attaches to bilateral and regional initiatives, and emphasized
the need to ensure that those initiatives are complementary to the
multilateral trading system. Ecuador was invited to enhance its
attractiveness as an investment destination by using WTO commitments
to give greater predictability to its legal and institutional
Members welcomed the significant steps Ecuador had taken to liberalize
its trade regime through unilateral, regional, and multilateral
initiatives. In particular, Members noted that Ecuador has bound its
entire tariff schedule, and that applied rates have fallen
considerably. However, the wide gap between applied and bound rates
reduces predictability, and some applied rates appear to exceed their
bound levels. Ecuador's limited use of contingency measures was
highlighted. Several Members questioned Ecuador's application of
certain import charges, its use of a price-band system, and the
administration of tariff quotas.
The persistence of some non-tariff barriers was a source of concern.
In particular, Members urged Ecuador to continue the reform of its
import licensing regime. They also referred to Ecuador's lengthy
customs procedures, and invited Ecuador to pursue its modernization
programme and to take full advantage of on-going trade facilitation
negotiations in the WTO. Members invited Ecuador to adhere fully to
WTO obligations in the areas of customs valuation, sanitary and
phytosanitary measures, and technical barriers to trade.
Ecuador provided information on the scope and use of the drawback and
maquila programmes, and answered questions on competition policy,
government procurement, and intellectual property rights.
Members praised Ecuador for adopting relatively broad commitments
under the GATS. They encouraged Ecuador to adhere to the WTO Reference
Paper on telecommunications, and urged it to table a comprehensive and
ambitious offer in the context of the WTO services negotiations.
Members encouraged Ecuador to persevere with the reform process in
electricity, financial services, telecommunications, and transport in
order to improve the competitiveness of its economy.
I conclude by thanking the Ecuadorean delegation for the oral and
written responses provided during the meeting. I look forward to
receiving outstanding answers within the delay allowed. I welcome
Ecuador's ongoing efforts to liberalize and improve the predictability
and transparency of its trade regime, and encourage Ecuador to take
advantage of the current favourable economic climate to address
remaining trade and investment barriers. I trust that our discussions
in this Review will help Ecuador identify and ease those barriers to
ensure the sustainability of economic growth.