The United States and Ecuador have mutual interests in combating narco-trafficking and cooperating in fostering Ecuador's economic development and reducing poverty. Ties havebeen strengthened by the presence of an estimated one million to two million Ecuadorians living in the United States, by 250,000 U.S. citizens visiting Ecuador annually, and by approximately 50,000 U.S. citizens residing in Ecuador. More than 100 U.S. companies are doing business in Ecuador. In February 2009, the Government of Ecuador expelled two U.S. Embassy officials who administered U.S.assistance to specialized police units. A Department of State spokesperson rejected any suggestion of wrongdoing by Embassy staff. On April 5, 2011, the Government of Ecuador declared the United States Ambassador to Ecuador, Heather M. Hodges, persona non grata under Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. On April 7, the U.S. Government took reciprocal action, informing Ecuador'sAmbassador to the United States, Luis Benigno Gallegos Chiriboga, of the decision to declare him persona non grata under Article 9(1) of the Vienna Convention. The United States and Ecuador will maintain relations at the Charge d'Affaires level for the time being.
The U.S. launched a Bilateral Dialogue with Ecuador in November 2008 , during which cooperation in human development and povertyreduction, economic development, commerce and investment, and migratory issues was discussed. The second plenary meeting, along with a meeting of the Ecuador-United States Trade and Investment Council, took place in November 2009, and included a discussion of security-related issues, in addition to continuing initiatives begun in the first plenary meeting. The U.S. Department of State announced April 7that it in addition to declaring Ecuador's Ambassador Gallegos persona non grata it had also suspended the third plenary meeting of the Bilateral Dialogue, which had been tentatively scheduled for June 2011.
The United States is Ecuador's principal trading partner. In 2010, Ecuador exported about $6.04 billion in products to the U.S., more than a 30% increase over 2009, and accounting for about35% of Ecuador's total exports. For over 15 years Ecuador has benefited from duty-free entry for many of its exports under the Andean Trade Preferences Act (ATPA) and received additional trade benefits under the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) in 2002. The U.S. Congress approved a number of extensions of those benefits. However, the ATPDEA expired on February 12, 2011. InMay 2004 Ecuador entered into negotiations for an Andean free trade agreement with the U.S., Colombia, and Peru, but negotiations between the U.S. and Ecuador lapsed in 2006. The Correa administration has stated it has no interest in negotiating a free trade agreement with the United States, but has expressed interest in negotiating a “trade for development agreement.”
The United States assistsEcuador's economic development directly through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), through multilateral organizations such as the Inter-American Development Bank, and through trade and technology transfers facilitated by the Foreign Commercial Service. In addition, the U.S. Peace Corps and the State Department's Narcotic Affairs Section operate sizable programs in Ecuador....