Ecuador Approves FTA with China

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By LatAm Reports Editor

Ecuador’s Assembly approved on Wednesday a trade agreement with China that will allow, according to the authorities, various Ecuadorian products to enter the Asian market without tariffs.

With the support of 76 votes out of 137, the legislature ratified the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed by both countries in May 2023 and the negotiation of which took place in 2022.

The legislative debate was preceded by a press conference by the Minister of Production, Sonsoles García, former ministers and representatives of the productive sector who defended the benefits of the agreement for the Andean country.

According to García with the validity of FTA, the potential creation of more than 50,000 jobs with a growth of more than 32 percent of the exportable offer is given way.

The minister stressed that the essential thing is the access to a market of more than 1.4 billion people, of which 1 billion are constantly making e-commerce. The official explained that after the approval the decision will be notified to the Chinese government.

Products such as Pitahaya fruit, which currently enter the Asian market with 20 % tariff, would stop paying for it immediately, the authorities explained, in addition to opening markets for frozen meats, tea, blueberries, pineapple orange, coffee, guaba, spinach and quinoa, among others.

The president of the Assembly and legislator for the Christian Social Party, Henry Kronfle, defended in the debate the approval of the agreement and said that 71 percent of the exports that will be generated with this FTA are of the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises of the popular and solidarity economy and the artisanal sector.

However, in the session there were those who warned about the consequences of the FTA with China.

José Agualsaca, an indigenous legislator for the Citizen Revolution, a movement related to former President Rafael Correa and critic of the trade agreements, anticipated a “deeting of the crisis” economic and – serious consequences – for the unequal competition that will be imposed by the law of the market and whose result, he said, will be the destruction of national industry, of small and medium producers.

Minister García said in this regard that the negotiation was technical and that in defense of the local industry 820 exclusions were established for sensitive sectors and long periods of relief of up to 20 years.

Although the right-wing Christian Social party supported the agreement, the legislator of that movement Lenin Rongel, elected on behalf of the province of Galapagos, voted against ensuring that China has failed to comply with the regulations – in those islands.

On several occasions, the presence of Chinese fleets in the exclusive economic zone of Galapagos engaged in illegal fishing has been denounced by authorities and non-governmental organizations.

On the demands of sectors that question a trade agreement with China because it would turn Ecuador into a waste deposit, Minister Garcia said that the country has national and international regulations – which are filters to make the entry of waste.

Between January and November last year Ecuador exported $5.291 million and imported from China 4,747 million, but during 2022 Ecuadorian sales were 5,810 million and purchases of 5,573 million, in both cases leaving a positive balance for the Andean country.

This article has been translated from the original which first appeared in El Mundo