The commercial relation of Ecuador with the block of 28 countries that conform the European Union (EU) throws a positive balance for the country, after the entry into force of the Multiparty Trade Agreement, in January of last year. According to data from the Ministry of Foreign Trade, in the first eight months of 2018, the EU remained the main market for Ecuador’s non-oil exports, with sales amounting to USD 2 164 million.
This is an increase of 14% compared to the same period in 2016, when the treaty was still not in force. In this scenario, the European Union and the Eurochairs in Ecuador organize the Europa 360 Expo, a meeting to bring together national and European investors and entrepreneurs, which started yesterday and will continue until Saturday.
“We have to make sure that economic operators use and take advantage of what the treaty offers. The idea is to go out, show and try to close deals, “says Marianne Van Steen, ambassador of the European Union in Ecuador. The agreement grants tariff reductions to agriculture and liberalizes 100% industrial and fishery products for Ecuador.
The European Union also enjoys tariff benefits that are applied, according to the product, progressively or immediately. According to the EU, it is the largest fair of its kind organized in the region and it is expected that some 20,000 people will attend.
The appointment is made Metropolitan Convention Center of Quito and will have 250 exhibitors, 15 conferences and spaces for meetings between companies. Among the topics of the talks are: How to export to Europe, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, new investment policy, security and investments, among others.
Daniel Legarda, executive president of the Ecuadorian Federation of Exporters (Fedexpor), points out that since January 2017, 22,000 new jobs have been created thanks to the agreement, adding that it is important to generate dissemination spaces such as the Expo Europa 360, for expand the scope of the treaty.
“This figure is important at a time when the country has difficulties in generating employment. The results of this agreement show how effective these types of tools are for the countries, “he said.
According to Van Steen, some 450 companies have reached the European market for the first time or have returned to the space lost in the last year, thanks to the commercial agreement. The Ambassador notes that some 200 new Ecuadorian products are currently sent to Europe.
According to Fedexpor, the cataloged ‘superfoods’ and crafts stand out in the exportable offer. With the tariff benefits under way, the challenge for Ecuador, according to Van Steen, is to diversify export destinations, since of the 28 countries of the bloc, shipments from Ecuador are concentrated mainly in eight nations.
According to data from the EU, imports from Europe grew by 35% in the first year of the agreement, mainly in items such as vehicles and alcoholic beverages. However, the ambassador points out that the main import item is machinery, which accounts for 10% of purchases from Ecuador to Europe.
This category is key, he says, because it contributes to the improvement of the quality and productivity of the Ecuadorian company. For Eduardo Egas, president of Corpei, the agreement has generated other benefits, for example has driven the national producer to improve its quality to compete and has generated confidence among investors.
“The investor feels calmer knowing that there is an agreement that protects him. We offer services to companies that want to enter new markets and we have identified that interest in Europe has grown considerably, “he adds.
But the relationship between Ecuador and the 28 nations of the European group has other edges that will also be disseminated in the event. The block has about six bilateral cooperation programs in operation for close to USD 77 million (67 million euros) in the country.
In the commercial aspect, for example, there is the trade support program to benefit small and medium enterprises, in coordination with Fedexpor and Corpei. The initiative was launched last year, with an investment of USD 11.5 million. Legarda details that in this context, Fedexpor undertook in 2017 the initiative Internacionalízate Mipyme, in which some 200 businesses from the micro, small and medium-sized business sector participate.
The director says that the program helps MSMEs in the processes of obtaining certifications, marketing techniques, infrastructure, co-financing of machinery and equipment, participation in fairs, among others, so that they reach the European market. Corpei, meanwhile, undertook the Expor Des program, which involved some 103 MSMEs and 10 associative projects.
Ligia Estrella, director of Expor Des, explains that businesses receive advice on issues of quality culture, innovation, promotion, and others. Since 2017, about five MSMEs have closed businesses, 32 benefited from promotional activities and 35 from quality improvement activities. Other projects of bilateral cooperation are in the plan of reconstruction and productive reactivation in Manabí and Esmeraldas and the program of reconversion of technological institutes, with the Senescyt. (I)