World Insights: Why China-Ecuador FTA can propel bilateral relations to new heights
QUITO, May 11 (Xinhua) -- The recently signed free trade agreement (FTA) between Ecuador and China will enhance trade exchanges and bilateral relations, leading to mutual benefits, according to officials and experts.
"I must express the enormous joy I feel at having finalized this free trade agreement between Ecuador and the People's Republic of China," Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso said following the signing of the agreement on Wednesday night.
The pact was signed by China's Commerce Minister Wang Wentao and Ecuador's Minister for Production, Foreign Trade, Investment and Fisheries Julio Prado via video after a year of negotiation, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
"The FTA will translate into well-being for citizens, development and more income for thousands of families," said Lasso, adding that "both countries win with this agreement."
At a following press conference, Prado called the deal "historic," saying that "the agreement takes into account the interests of both countries and expands opportunities for joint collaboration to achieve the more sustainable development of our countries in the present and in the future."
"It puts Ecuador on the map of Asia, and makes China (Ecuador's) largest supplier of consumer goods, raw materials and capital goods, which will contribute to improving the competitiveness of Ecuadorian industry," said Prado.
China, he noted, is the world's leading market, with more than 1.4 billion consumers. Hence, the agreement "is tremendously interesting for the exporting, productive and consumer sectors, as well as being good business for everyone."
"The specific potential of this agreement, from the perspective of exports, is an additional 3 billion to 4 billion U.S. dollars over the next 10 years," he said, adding that Ecuador's employment outlook is also poised to benefit.
"Through the trade agreement with China and others that are being negotiated with several countries, we estimate that in the next seven years, we will double the number of productive jobs" in the export sector, which currently stands at 1.2 million, he said.
Ecuador is the fourth Latin American country to sign an FTA with China, after Chile, Peru and Costa Rica. The FTA needs to be approved and ratified by the Constitutional Court and the National Assembly (unicameral Congress) of Ecuador before taking effect.
In the meantime, exporters and business leaders hailed the agreement as a boon to growth.
"The size of the Chinese market will allow us to leverage exports much more," especially as China's economy has proven resilient, expanding despite the challenging global landscape, according to Xavier Rosero, vice president of the Ecuadorian Federation of Exporters.
China is Ecuador's second-largest trading partner. In 2022, the two countries witnessed double-digit growth in trade for the second year in a row, with bilateral trade reaching 13.1 billion U.S. dollars, up 19.7 percent year on year, according to data by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
"The Chinese economy has shown that it can sustain this dynamism of growth ... It is one of the economies that lead global growth, and that means its purchasing power for imported products has stayed significantly high," said Rosero.
Alberto Acosta, an economic consultant and international analyst, said the signing of the FTA with China "is excellent news" for Ecuador, adding that it would increase trade and strengthen bilateral relations.
"International trade always unites and creates opportunities," said Acosta. "That will mean a much closer relationship because there will be more exchanges."