QUITO – Ecuador’s exports to the European Union increased by 20 percent in the first five months of this year compared to the same period in 2016 after the Jan. 1 entry into force of the bilateral trade accord, the Foreign Trade Ministry reported Tuesday.
Exports in the first five months of 2017 amounted to $1.387 billion, up from $1.159 billion during the same period last year, the ministry said.
Meanwhile, imports from the EU went from $653 million to $766 million, a 17 percent hike.
During the inauguration of the First Europe-Ecuador Business Meeting after the signing of the pact, Ecuadorian Foreign Trade Minister Pablo Campana said that the figures are a sign that, to date, the accord has been “very beneficial for both parties,” and he added that he was sure that the positive trend will continue.
He said that the figures “definitely exceed expectations” but he also noted that the parties want to increase their exports even more.
The EU’s ambassador to Ecuador, Marianne Van Steen, emphasized the accord’s “positive” results, noting that “it’s not a surprise” that such an increase had resulted, particularly for Ecuador’s traditional exports of bananas, tuna and shrimp.
Although Van Steen said she did not have precise statistics for the EU’s exports to Ecuador, she did say that “it’s a rather significant increase.”
In general, she said that the parties are “satisfied,” adding that EU sales to Ecuador included traditional industrial products such as medical equipment, mechanical and electrical products, as well as pharmaceuticals, fertilizers and assorted supplies.
She said that “without a doubt” the positive results are due to the implementation of the trade pact, but also to the elimination of assorted restrictions on imports.
Van Steen emphasized that the accord is not limited to just imports and exports but also is designed to “integrate the markets even more” by, for example, attracting more investment and obtaining more bids for services and entrees to government purchases.
She said, however, that six months was not yet enough time to measure the impact in all areas.
Van Steen also noted that the EU is contributing 10 million euros ($11.3 million) to strengthen the Ecuadorian Trade Ministry’s institutional capabilities and to support small and medium producers with an eye toward increasing their productive capacity, their quality control systems and the obtaining of certification to increase their presence in the European market.