RAYMOND, Maine — On February 7, 2022, Sen. Robert Menendez [D-NJ] introduced bill S.3591, “The United States Ecuador Partnership Act of 2022.” The bill will strengthen Ecuadorian-United States relations and Ecuador’s economy. Furthermore, S.3591 will help sustain all of Ecuador’s recent economic growth and the work done with the assistance of the United States to strengthen Ecuador’s democracy.
Critical Points in Bill S.3591
Sen. Menendez and his cosponsors drafted bill S.5391 to help ease the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ecuador. In addition to the economic pains caused by the pandemic, Ecuador faces severe financial losses due to the government’s inability to stop illegal fishing. Illegal fishing alone places significant drains annually on Ecuador’s economic resources. The financial assistance provided to Ecuador through the bill will begin with a dramatic increase in bilateral trade between the U.S. and Ecuador.
Much of the S.3591 centers on strengthening Ecuador’s commercial trade sector. Sen. Menendez’s bill proposes to do this by creating a formal framework for Ecuador’s economy that will support long-term economic growth. The framework will emerge in consultation with international trade to create transparency, which in turn then encourages other countries to invest in Ecuador’s businesses and can make Ecuador’s trade operations competitive in international markets. Bill S.3591 will drive Ecuador to competitiveness and create an economic foundation for more open markets to make trade accessible for more businesses that can bring revenue to Ecuador.
Bill S.3591 is a bipartisan bill that recognizes the ongoing economic difficulties in Ecuador and will strengthen the country’s economy. The bill will also assist Ecuadorians from all economic and social backgrounds by building long-term economic improvements. Bill S.3591 focuses on key areas of Ecuador’s economy that struggle against illegal activity that stunt economic growth and prevent upward mobility for all.
Ecuador’s economic freedom ranks 126th out of 177 rated countries, but contrastingly, the U.S. places 25th. Scoring various categories, such as the size of the government and strength of international trade and ranking them, helps generate the economic freedom scores. Unfortunately, the illegal activity and Ecuador’s government’s inability to stop the activity lowers Ecuador’s overall economic freedom score.
In 2020, 33% of Ecuador’s population was reportedly living in poverty, which the COVID-19 pandemic only made worse. The pandemic sparked new efforts from Ecuador’s allies, including the U.S., to provide economic relief. The relief efforts came in several forms, such as new loans for infrastructure or unemployment, but also as vaccines. The vaccines are strong tools to help bring an end to the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ecuador.
The illegal activity most prevalent in Ecuador is illegal fishing, costing as much as $50 billion globally. Illegal fishing has begotten cycles of insufficient fishing produce in Ecuador, potentially leading to overfishing, which will cost individual workers in the fishing industry income.
Bilateral trades are trades that exclusively happen between two nations and promote trade and investment immediately between those countries. The U.S. and Ecuador have been strengthening bilateral trade, which will, in turn, improve Ecuador’s economic freedom rating and build confidence in Ecuador’s ability to trade at the international level.
How Will the S.3591 Aid Ecuador?
Bill S.3591 will help develop international trust in Ecuador’s government and trade markets. The bill will help Ecuador’s government eliminate threats to the fishing industry by strengthening the original fishing industry forces and increasing the government’s ability to patrol the waters and put an end to the work and trade of those fishing illegally. The overall impact of bill S.3591 will not be immediately apparent, but the economic fortitude the bill will provide is hard to miss, specifically concerning Ecuador’s economic dealings with China.
Opening trade markets on an international level helps make a country less reliant on one specific sector over another. It diversifies economies to make them less likely to face a collapse should that happen, and can efficiently create new jobs and labor opportunities for a country’s citizens. Doing this with bill S.3591 will help drop Ecuador’s unemployment rate, which was at 5.34% in 2020. It will help many find income and give a boost to Ecuador’s economy while proving its ability to operate as a global trade powerhouse.
The U.S. has provided economic assistance to Ecuador during the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. provided more than $27 million coming from the Department of State and the United States for International Aid and Development (USAID) funding. Bill S.3591 will further the economic assistance provided to diversify Ecuador’s economy and grant income for debt relief from the loans Ecuador owes to China.
Ecuador and China will begin repayment talks before the end of 2022. Thankfully, with funding from Bill S.3591, Ecuador will be in a stronger financial position to start negotiations.
– Clara Mulvihill