BEIJING – Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, signed an agreement Wednesday for the mutual abolition of tourist visas, along with eight other accords on investment, education, technology and cooperation.
These include a $5.2 billion investment by Chinese banks in Ecuador, a scholarship program by the Asian country for Ecuadorean students, as well as an exchange of technology.
With the new visa agreement under which citizens of either country will no longer require visas to travel to the other, Ecuador hopes to increase the influx of Chinese tourists, said Jose Maria Borja, Ecuador’s ambassador to China.
“Visas for tourist purposes will be eliminated. In other words, if anyone wants to go to the other country for trade or education, they will still need a visa,” explained Borja.
According to the Ecuadorean government, around 14,000 Chinese traveled to Ecuador in 2013, up from some 10,000 in 2012.
Borja also said that the loans from the Export-Import Bank of China, the Bank of China and the China Development Bank represent “a very substantial amount of funding for development projects in Ecuador.”
At a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday, Ecuador’s finance minister, Fausto Herrera, said that the funds would be allocated to transport, education, health and safety projects and, on an average, have a 30-year term at 2 percent interest.