From the NY Times:
In recent months, Mr. Correa’s government has been in Washington, lobbying to retain preferential treatment for some key Ecuadorean products. But that favored status, which means keeping thousands of jobs in Ecuador and cheaper goods for American consumers, could be among the first casualties if Mr. Correa grants asylum to Mr. Snowden.
The most likely casualty of sheltering Mr. Snowden would be the trade preferences, which have been in place since the early 1990s. Originally designed for several Andean nations, Ecuador is the last remaining recipient. But the preferences, which applied to about $429 million in non-oil exports last year, expire at the end of July unless they are renewed by Congress.
That renewal was already in doubt, not least of all, officials said, because the oil giant Chevron has been lobbying hard against Ecuador. The campaign is part of Chevron’s response to an $18 billion penalty against the company ordered by an Ecuadorean court in a case over environmental damages related to oil drilling in the Amazon.
But Ecuador has begun its own campaign to keep the preferences, including a Web site called Keep Trade Going, that urges Americans to contact their legislators to ask them to vote in favor of the pact.
At the same time, Ecuador has staked out a fallback position, petitioning to include roses, frozen broccoli and canned artichokes in a separate trade program, the Generalized System of Preferences. That decision is controlled by the White House, so Ecuador is essentially asking President Obama’s help in getting around opposition in Congress.
Mr. Obama must decide by Monday whether he will include those items — a move that becomes increasingly thorny as the standoff over Mr. Snowden continues.
The Washington Post editorial board thinks using trade preferences this way is a good idea:
Some might find it awkward to be granting sanctuary to one country’s self-proclaimed whistleblower while stifling their own. Not Mr. Correa, who for years has been campaigning against the United States while depending on it to prop up his economy with trade preferences. Thanks to the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Protection Act, Ecuador — which uses the dollar as its currency — is able to export many goods to the United States duty-free, supporting roughly 400,000 jobs in a country of 14 million people.
As it happens, the preferences will expire next month unless renewed by Congress. If Mr. Correa welcomes Mr. Snowden, there will be an easy way to demonstrate that Yanqui-baiting has its price.
I really have no idea where any aspect of this story is going. I hope some WTO legal issues arise, but I'm going to wait until the direction becomes more concrete before I start the public speculation.