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Legal review of agreement with EU would end in two months

Minister Francisco Rivadeneira said substantial changes are no expected in the final version of the text. (Photo: Ministerio de Comercio Exterior)

Click on the flag for more information about EcuadorECUADOR 
Thursday, October 02, 2014, 01:20 (GMT + 9)
The final text of the trade agreement signed in July 2014 by Ecuador and the European Union (EU) will be ready later this year, head of the Ministry of Foreign Trade Francisco Rivadeneira informed.
At present, only the draft agreed in Brussels two months ago was released. "They are non-final versions, which have to go through the legal scrutiny and the translation process," explained the minister, according to the newspaper El Telégrafo.
Anyway, he said the government expects there are no substantial changes from the legal perspective.
The minister also pointed out that once the final document is ready, it will be sent to the National Assembly for it to be approved.
The bilateral agreement was signed on 17 July after almost four years’ negotiations between the two parties.
For the Ministry of Foreign Trade, the agreement is balanced and will maximize opportunities. It will also reduce costs, comply with the Ecuadorian development pattern and help protect sensitive sectors.
The president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa considers the bilateral agreement is "a necessary evil" for the country because if not agreed, Ecuador would lose tariff preferences granted by the European bloc, reported Prensa Latina.
Failure to settle the deal will mean that tuna -- among many other products -- could lose competitiveness.
"The possibility of losing the tariff preferences these Ecuadorian products boast in the European bloc was an element of pressure that was present all the time on the negotiating table," admitted Correa.
For its part, the EC stressed that the agreement will allow Ecuador to benefit from continued access to the EU for its main export products, particularly fishery products which will enjoy duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market.
It also said that this agreement will help secure jobs in the fish processing industry in Europe and will benefit European consumers.
In 2013, Ecuador exported fisheries and aquaculture products to the EU for more than EUR 1 billion.
Until the trade agreement takes effect, the EC has proposed the creation of a legal instrument that would allow Ecuador to continue having the tariff benefits of the GSP Plus, which is due for the country later this year. This measure requires the approval of the Council and the European Parliament. 
Roberto Betancourt, head of the national negotiating team, believes the legal review of the texts agreed between the parties would conclude in November, the newspaper El Universo reported.

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