The Colombian government plans to sue Ecuador in the
Andean Community of Nations and the World Trade Organization if its neighbor
don’t lift safeguards imposed on products imported from Colombia, Trade Minister
Luis Guillermo Plata said Tuesday.
The Ecuadorian government imposed punitive tariffs on Colombian goods July 11,
citing the need to protect the country’s industry from the competition of a
weaker currency in the northern country.
Except that the Colombian peso actually appreciated, Plata said. So far this
year, the Colombian peso strengthened 10% compared to the U.S. dollar, which is
used as legal tender in Ecuador.
Plata said the Colombian government will continue negotiating with Ecuador to
lift the new duties and will start legal proceedings in the Andean Community of
Nations and the WTO if the dialogue doesn’t produce any results.
The Colombian government may enforce retaliation against Ecuador’s goods as a
measure of last resort, Plata said. “We are working to avoid making that kind of
decision,” he added.
Ecuador imposed the safeguards on 1,400 products made in Colombia, including
cars, textiles, shoes, dairy and meat among other goods.
The Ecuadorian government had imposed safeguards in January to limit imports
from all countries, but lifted them for Andean countries following a request
from the Andean Community. And more recently Ecuador enforced new harsher
safeguards against Colombian goods.
According to the Colombian statistics department, Colombian exports to Ecuador
were worth $1.5 billion in 2008. Ecuador represented the third-largest market
for Colombian products.
In 2008, Colombia exported to Ecuador$140 million worth of clothes and
textile products, according to Ivan Amaya, the head of Ascoltex, the country’s
textile industry group. Textile exports to Ecuador may fall to as low as $15
million or $20 million this year because of the tariffs, Amaya said.
The safeguards against Colombian goods may be related to other political
clashes that have opposed governments of both countries over the past months.
The two countries have had no diplomatic relations since early 2008, when
Colombian jets crossed the border to bomb a camp of Colombian left-wing rebels
It is surprising Ecuador only hit Colombian goods and not goods from other
countries such as Peru, Colombian Minister Plata said, though he declined to
elaborate further. (Dow Jones)