Lugar, Ecuador tussle over alleged trade pact violations

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Ecuador says the $18 billion pollution settlement against Chevron does not fall under the purview of the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty tribunal, which has ordered Ecuador to prevent enforcement of the settlement, because the plaintiffs are third-party indigenous Ecuadorian citizens.

“Under domestic Ecuadorian law, the Government cannot interfere with a private party litigation,” Nathalie Cely, Ecuador's ambassador to the United States, told The Hill in a statement. “Instead, the parties in that domestic litigation are afforded due process under law. The Ecuadorian government can no more interfere in that case than the U.S. government can interfere in this country with respect to private party litigation. Instead, the judicial system must be allowed to reach a final result, including affording all parties the right to appeal.”

Cely's full statement is below: 

I respectfully object to several of Senator Richard Lugar's claims concerning trade relations between the Government of the Republic of Ecuador (“Ecuador”) and the United States.

The USTR report to Congress provided an objective analysis of a variety of issues, and we are pleased that it did not recommend suspension of ATPDEA. Ecuador is pleased with the findings of the USTR report and we are proud of the many positive conclusions reached about Ecuador's social, economic and security progress.  We recognize that there are concerns that must be addressed, and we are committed to maintaining an open dialogue on these and any issues that affect this important bilateral relationship.  

The Government of Ecuador is fully committed to honoring its international obligations as we have consistently done in the past.  Ecuador has satisfied every final adverse award against it.  In handling active international arbitration disputes, the Government of Ecuador is following international rule of law and due process.

It is also important to note that the arbitration case mentioned by Senator Lugar relates to and implicates the rights of third parties, specifically the rights of indigenous Ecuadorian citizens who have been seeking through both U.S. courts and the Ecuadorian courts since 1993 compensation for alleged harm directly to them and to their environment.  Under domestic Ecuadorian law, the Government cannot interfere with a private party litigation.  Instead, the parties in that domestic litigation are afforded due process under law.  The Ecuadorian government can no more interfere in that case than the U.S. government can interfere in this country with respect to private party litigation.  Instead, the judicial system must be allowed to reach a final result, including affording all parties the right to appeal. 

I respectfully request Members of Congress to look beyond public relations statements and lobbying efforts currently being made.  For example, after nine years of litigation and at a U.S. company’s request, U.S. Courts dismissed a lawsuit filed by indigenous Ecuadorian plaintiffs on the basis that Ecuador’s courts are fair, impartial, and more appropriate. 

The ATPDEA is an important tool that supports the broad efforts of both countries to make the Americas a safe and prosperous place for our people.