The diplomat ponders the integration of his country with Ecuador, Peru and Colombia as a key axis for the strengthening of commercial relations.
With a “cordial but distant” past, the governments of Ecuador and Brazil have an agenda to strengthen their relations with a view to doubling the commercial exchange of approximately $ 1,000 million to $ 2,000 million.
This was stated by Ambassador Carlos Lazary in a dialogue with the public media.
How are the relations between Ecuador and Brazil? We have resumed diplomatic relations with the arrival of the ambassador of Ecuador to Brazil (Diego Rivadeneira) since January. We are in dialogues with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding cooperation and to create a favorable environment for commercial relations.
What is the roadmap? It depends a lot on the degree of integration and political will that governments have. In recent months governments have resumed these relationships and now we are going to do it at the level of private sectors and technical, cultural cooperation, etc.
Brazil presented a proposal for a trade agreement a couple of years ago. What is the progress of it? Brazil and Ecuador already have an economic cooperation agreement within the framework of the Aladi (Latin American Integration Association) that has already generated a total opening to the Brazilian market; no Ecuadorian product pays tariffs to enter this country.
There were some procedures in phytosanitary matters that were already overcome and the entry of bananas and shrimp was achieved this year. With regard to investments, within this agreement we seek the insertion of four new chapters that can transform it into a free trade agreement between Ecuador and Mercosur gradually with its four members.
What model do you propose? We have developed a specific model for countries that are issuers and receivers of investments at the same time. It is a model that incorporates parts of the OECD model (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), but with some specificities that these countries have with double characteristics.
We have already signed with Chile, Colombia, Mexico, South Africa and Morocco. We are finishing the negotiation with Peru. We presented Ecuador two years ago and now we have received the response from the Ecuadorian government to start the negotiations. It is a complementary model to the Ecuadorian that aims at the promotion of investments and has its clauses guaranteeing investments.
What is the growth potential of banana and shrimp exports? What other products have an opportunity in your country’s market?
Brazil is a banana producer, but the quality of Ecuadorian fruit is different. Their banana has an important niche in high class clients in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In the case of shrimp, domestic demand exceeds production capacity.
Other products like flowers have a chance. The Amazon of Brazil has a potential for acquisition of construction material since there is no stone there. Ecuador has stone, then that could go through the Napo River to the Amazon and reach that region where that product can be sold at very competitive prices.
The opportunities depend on the logistics and transport conditions. We can not export more if imports do not increase because when relations tend towards equilibrium, sustainable trade growth is guaranteed.
What is needed to increase trade? For example, broccoli from Ecuador goes to Brazil, but first it passes through Spain. Just look at the map and see that all the possibilities we have for economic integration with Ecuador would be easier if integration with Colombia and Peru deepens.
Another example is the export of energy to Brazil and Chile. I believe that the integration of Peru and Ecuador generates the export offer that surely can be absorbed by Brazil due to its growth levels. We must deepen the electrical connection with Peru and then project with Brazil and Chile.
In addition, the highway between Brazil and Peru is already completed, then if it is integrated with Ecuador, a freight from Quito to Rio de Janeiro can be generated.
What is the status of the Manta-Manaos project? As an immediate reality we want that axis to serve trade between Brazil and Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. It can be a waterway through the Amazon and the Napo River. That means we can take products from Manaus, a free zone with 960 companies with a GDP of $ 14,000 million, to Ecuador.
We are working on specifying the concession of the Port of Providencia, on the Napo River, which could be an industrial port. Logistics entrepreneurs and soy producers visited the area last year and see a way to enter the Ecuadorian, Colombian and Peruvian markets. We also work on a navigation agreement between Brazil, Ecuador and Peru.
The Port of Esmeraldas has also been evaluated by Brazilian entrepreneurs as a viable port for logistics, like Guayaquil, Posorja, etc. The more integrated the countries of the Pacific coast, the better for Brazil.
Are you planning a presidential meeting? We are working on a possible visit of foreign ministers and presidents. Lenin Moreno invited Michael Temer to the Summit of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization in July.
It is important because the Amazon is a treasure of both countries and we want to address issues such as water quality, indigenous populations and the treatment of forests.
In addition, together with Italy and with the support of CAF, the Amazon Without Fire program is to be promoted in Ecuador. (I)