In 2018, the country managed to place $ 12,804 million in primary and non-oil products on the perches of the world. It is the most significant amount in recent years; however, with a pace of growth on its shoulders that does not convince in the business world. At the end of the year, this amount was 4.9% more compared to 2017, still well below the result reflected in imports, 12.2%.
While there is a better result than last year, explains Nancy Celi, an expert in international trade, it should be taken into account that this increase is not due to the emergence of new products within the basket of supply, or a significant increase in the amounts of exports considered non-traditional. On the contrary, he notes, a good part of that result (595.6 million dollars) has been given by the sale of shrimp, banana and tuna, which for years in the country have been the engine that generates foreign exchange.
Ecuador, says Celi, continues to depend on very few products. Its export structure, she says, is even more concentrated than it was in 1980. At the end of 2018, 70.5% of the total exported ($ 21,606 million if oil is included) came from shrimp, bananas and oil, a convincing figure, he says, to ratify that the commercial policy is not giving the expected results.
According to the Central Bank, last year the weakness of non-oil exports compared to imports ($ 17,762 million) caused the year to close with a non-oil deficit higher by 36.8%, reaching $ 4,958 million. And that is negative, says Patricio Alarcón, president of the Ecuadorian Business Committee (CEE), because not strengthening this sector is not betting on a strategy that could generate foreign currency to the country in a sustainable manner. In his opinion, there is still work to be done in two areas: to strengthen competitiveness through an improvement in labor laws, a reduction in taxes, tariffs and procedures, in order to reduce costs; and “on the other hand it should be defined what are the productive strategies to export more: see what is the demand from abroad, to what terms, what is the trend in products”.
According to Larry Yumibanda, president of the College of Economists of Guayas, Ecuador should emulate Paraguay’s strategies to boost its agro-industry. A policy with which they have been able to grow up to 5% per year in their offer during the last 10 years. Eighty percent of Ecuadorian exports come from Ecuadorian activities, he says. The key is to specialize that offer and industrialize it.
Last year was recovery. Sales for this item totaled 8,801 million dollars, 27.3% more compared to 2017. The recovery of the price of the barrel helped the country to improve its income.
As expected, shrimp ended up being the product of higher sales: $ 3,234 million, up 6.5%. In the list the banana followed, with $ 3.196 million; canned fish, with $ 1,235 million; and flowers, with $ 851 million.
Coffee continued to be the product with the greatest decline in the traditional supply. He reported $ 82 million (30.9% less). Other sectors with losses were juices and preserves (-14%) and oils and extracts (-8%).
Total commercial balance. In 2018, Ecuador added a balance against $ 514 million, as a result of the subtraction between what it bought and sold. (I)