On Wednesday, Ecuador's Production, Trade, and Investments Minister Julio Jose Prado announced that the administration of President Guillermo Lasso seeks to achieve a free trade agreement (FTA) with China this year.
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In a video message recorded for the 15th China-Latin America Business Summit (China-LAC) taking place in Beijing, Prado confirmed that negotiations for the China-Ecuador FTA are expected to conclude shortly before December, when a bilateral summit will be held in Guayaquil City.
If these negotiations end as expected, Ecuador would become the fourth Latin American country to endorse a trade agreement with China, after Chile, Peru, and Costa Rica. According to Prado, Ecuador "is one of the most stable economies" in the region and a country seeking to "promote a deep continuous transformation" based on "competitive rules."
At the Beijing conference, Ecuador's ambassador to China Carlos Larrea said that "looking at Asia is looking at the future of the world" and that the Asian country continues to expand its external opening by optimizing its trade structure.
Since 2007, China-LAC business summits have brought together thousands of representatives from the public and private sectors interested in expanding trade relations. During these last years, they have also served to promote President XI Jinping's New Silk Road.
In the first half of 2022, China displaced the United States as the main buyer of Ecuadorian non-oil and non-mining products. In that period, the South American country exported US$2.1 billion to China and US$2 billion to the United States.
The main Ecuadorian products exported to the Asian country were shrimp (US$1.9 billion), bananas (US$63 million), wood (US$61 million), animal feed (US$19 million), and fishery products (US$9 million).
Currently, 24 percent of Ecuador's non-oil and mining exports go to China. The bilateral trade balance remains, however, unfavorable for the South American country.