China and Ecuador agreed to a new economic trade agreement on Thursday during President Xi Jinping's visit to Quito. The deal is set to increase production and investment between the two countries ahead of the APEC meeting in Lima, Peru.
Xi and Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa signed a bilateral cooperation agreement which sets out pledges for major energy, infrastructure, financial, agriculture and manufacturing projects.
Important projects discussed by the leaders included hydroelectric and petrochemical plants, as China continues to grow its economic power with Ecuador, and Latin America more widely.
President Correa stated that the deal was important for Ecuador as China will soon be the biggest economy in the world. Since Correa came to power in 2007, Ecuador has seen high rates of Chinese investments in infrastructure, particularly following the 2008 global financial crisis. Ecuador’s economy, while traditionally heavily reliant on oil prices, has recently moved towards diversifying.
While hosting Xi in the capital, Correa stressed the "clear political will of governments to create a strong bond based on trust, respect and mutual complementarity." China supported Ecuador’s 2017 presidency over the Group of 77, a United Nations coalition for the economic interests of developing countries, which now includes over 100 members.
Both countries also signaled their intent to increase exchanges in science, technology, communication, culture, sports and education. President Correa also thanked China for its support after the April 16 earthquake which killed over 600 people. Correa estimated that the damage from the earthquake could cost up to US$3 billion.
In his third visit to Latin America, Xi will also travel to meet Peru President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and President Michelle Bachelet of Chile. Xi will attend the APEC leaders meeting in Lima from Nov. 19 to 20.
One of the big topics of the meeting will be China’s proposal for new free trade agreements, now increasingly important amid the all but dead Trans-Pacific Partnership, the much-maligned free trade deal pushed by U.S. President Barack Obama but which President-elect Donald Trump has campaigned on rejecting.