Ecuador - Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards
Ecuador has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1996. The Foreign Trade Law prohibits any economic, administrative or technical practice that may limit or discourage foreign and internal trade, free competition or local production of goods and services. This legislation allows the application of corrective measures only as specified by the WTO.
In practice, Ecuador’s tariff and non-tariff barriers interfere with agricultural and food imports. While import tariffs are not excessive, technical barriers and sanitary/phytosanitary (SPS) restrictions are not always established with the purpose of protecting human, animal and plant health but to restrict or limit imports. Weak government institutions create inefficiency and there are sudden changes in the application or interpretation of rules and requirements. Some administrative procedures are cumbersome and require excessive documentation.
Food safety is a shared responsibility in Ecuador. The Ministries of Agriculture and Health are in charge of protecting the food supply. Several agencies within these ministries handle the technical and administrative processes of prior authorization, inspection and control of local and imported foods and agricultural products.