Ecuador – implementing the EU trade agreement

In 2016, Ecuador joined the free trade agreement that Peru and Colombia had previously signed with the EU. In order to realise the agreement, the following year Ecuador entered into a cooperation with the National Board of Trade Sweden. This cooperation lasted until 2020 and resulted in new working methods and a practical handbook on sustainable trade.

In 2012, Peru and Colombia signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU. In 2016, Ecuador was also incorporated into the agreement. To increase its ability to comply with and benefit from the agreement, the Ministry of Production, Foreign Trade, Investment and Fisheries (MPCEIP) of Ecuador entered into a cooperation with the National Board of Trade in 2017. The cooperation focused on two specific chapters of the FTA: the trade and sustainable development (TSD) chapter and the chapter on technical barriers to trade.

Guidance on formulating product regulations

In the area of technical barriers to trade, the project focused on the development of regulations related to goods. The aim of such work is to formulate regulations that ensure goods are safe for health and the environment, but at the same time do not create unnecessary barriers to trade. Ecuador had already made it mandatory to carry out an impact assessment when new technical regulations are introduced – known as a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA). This is an internationally used method to analyse the impact of new legislation on different parts of society. However, the RIA guidance available to support government agencies in Ecuador lacked the trade perspective needed to better regulate technical barriers to trade. A guide for the trade-related aspects of RIA was therefore created in a cooperation between the National Board of Trade, the government agency and the Ecuadorian standardisation body INEN.

Increased cooperation for sustainable development

All EU trade agreements include a TSD chapter. The chapter may require a country to comply with certain international agreements in areas other than trade, such as agriculture, environment or labour. Cooperation is a crucial aspect in enabling Ecuador to implement the commitments under the TSD chapter. With the support of the National Board of Trade, new forms of cooperation were created between the MPCEIP, other ministries and civil society. A working group was created with the task of coordinating the work and developing annual work plans. The project also placed great emphasis on disseminating knowledge about the links between the role of trade in sustainability and the 2030 Agenda, to both ministries and civil society.

TSD Handbook – concrete advice for sustainability work

During the project, a practical handbook for the implementation of the TSD chapter was created. The handbook was developed in cooperation with the European Commission and contains concrete advice on how Ecuador can work with sustainability within the framework of its trade agreement with the EU. The handbook was published in both English and Spanish and also served as guidance and inspiration for other countries to implement the TSD chapter in the EU trade agreement.

TSD Handbook – English version