Bolivia protests against exclusion from US duty free scheme
Bolivia protested Thursday at the World Trade Organization against a US move to exclude it from a duty free trade scheme as Washington found that La Paz was not doing enough to combat drug trafficking.
In a speech to the trade body's 153 member states, Bolivian ambassador Angelica Navarro Llanos "protested against the exclusion (of her country) from benefiting from the tariff exemptions that the United States apply to other Andean countries."
Navarro Llanos said that Bolivia "has eradicated 6,341 hectares (15,600 acres) of coca plantation in 2009, or 16 percent more than in 2008."
"We still hope for a solution based on a just analysis," said Navarro Llanos, who stressed that her country was engaging in a "responsible and determined" fight against narcotics trade.
"Official reports from the UN ... show that there is no argument for the United States to justify the suspension of this advantage for Bolivia," she added.
At the WTO session, Ecuador, Cuba, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela and Nicaragua spoke out in support for Bolivia, the world's third largest coca producer.
The US delegation did not respond to Bolivia's intervention.
Colombia, Ecuador and Peru currently benefit from the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act that exempts the Andean states from tariffs in order to help them expand economic alternatives to drug production and trafficking.
© 2010 AFP