On December 8, 2020, the United States and Ecuador signed a new Protocol on Trade Rules and Transparency that updates the U.S.-Ecuador Trade and Investment Council Agreement (TIC Agreement).  The Protocol adds four new annexes on (i) Customs Administration and Trade Facilitation, (ii) Good Regulatory Practices, (iii) Anticorruption and (iv) Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.  In a brief press release, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer stated, “Today’s Protocol builds on the existing TIC Agreement to establish high standards for efficient customs procedures, transparency in regulatory development, anti-corruption policies, and cooperation and information sharing to benefit small and medium-sized enterprises.  This Protocol is an important step in establishing closer economic ties between our countries.”

On customs administration and trade facilitation, the Protocol includes, for example, provisions on advance rulings, penalties and automation, which go well beyond the baseline of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement. On good regulatory practices, the Protocol includes, for example, provisions for the online publication of draft regulations, regulatory impact analyses and transparency, and the assessment of the effectiveness of regulations. On anti-corruption, the Protocol expands both countries’ frameworks to include provisions addressing money laundering, effective sanctions, the accountability of public officials, and additional protections for whistleblowers. Regarding small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), the Protocol recognizes the importance of small businesses, including micro-sized businesses, to the economies of both countries, and includes provisions promoting cooperation to increase trade and investment opportunities for SMEs.  A Fact Sheet on the four annexes is available here.

The Protocol will go into effect once each party has notified the other that it has completed the internal procedures required for the entry into force.