What are the reasons why banana shipments to the EU have fallen in the last year?
We do not know what the determining factor is, but it is worrisome. Banana is the flagship product of Ecuador. One in three bananas consumed in the EU comes from this country. The fact that the dollar is now very strong makes the product less competitive. This adding to the increase in the consumption of organic bananas and a pressure for the price especially in Germany. All that played for a 9.46% drop in 2019.
How to control the pressure exerted by the markets for the price of the fruit box?
We as an authority cannot intervene. I have received complaints, but it is not in our hands. This is handled like this because it depends on the power that importers have. It is up to Ecuador to sell to that market or divert the fruit to other destinations. That may cause markets to increase price.
How much has the trend in banana consumption changed in the EU?
The consumption of organic bananas and exotic fruits is growing tremendously. Europeans consider their health very important. That may also be one of the reasons why less bananas were imported in 2019.
How much has the shipment of fruits from Ecuador grown?
Quite. We Europeans are curious. For example, avocado has become the most fashionable product in Europe. Exports doubled by 90% in 2019. Likewise, papaya that grew 12% and pineapple, with 15%. In addition, there are products that have a lot of potential such as pitahaya, tamarind, passion fruit and frozen fruit.
With what benefits does this type of fruit enter the European market?
They are liberalized. They have no quotas.
To what extent would the demand for these fruits displace bananas?
In none. Of all the fruits that are exported to Europe, bananas continue to be the most consumed. It is very difficult to say that there is another preference. For example, the amounts, tons and values continue to be well below what is achieved with bananas. Banana is the star product and Ecuador its main supplier followed by Colombia and Peru.
What should Ecuador improve to be able to send and supply the new demand for fruits?
In competitiveness, that is key. Ecuador has a very high product quality but is marred by a fairly complex political and economic landscape. The Government has two options: improve export policy and tax reforms.
There was concern of exporters about the reduction of maximum residue limits (MRLs). How was the subject?
It still does not take effect. The decision to reduce MRLs is scientifically based. Everything is to protect our consumers. We have opened the possibility to countries that do not agree to offer evidence if they consider the measure exaggerated.
But Latin American exporters have already sent a letter …
Yes, and we make it clear that we will never make a decision without first having a study. We are very demanding and apply the precautionary principle regarding the protection of our consumers. If we know that a product can have an impact on health, we prefer to avoid it.
Will other similar measures be applied?
In terms of banana and other agricultural products we set the rod very high. That is, we will only receive products that have the highest requirements and standards. In the EU we will be increasingly demanding.
How is the theme of the ‘yellow card’ to fishing?
That is the question I always ask. We are waiting for the country’s response in the form of an action plan. At the end of March, EU delegates arrive to review.
After that visit, how long could the warning be lifted?
It all depends on the country. If the fishing law is ready and several points of the item list are met, it can be lifted. But it is still uncertain.
Trade between the block and Ecuador lost pace during 2019, what happened?
The economic situation of the country influenced. There was a drop of just over 1%. The decline in imports had its share. People had fewer resources and decreased purchases.
How are trade flows between the EU and Ecuador presented this year?
The prospects of the International Monetary Fund predict that growth will be 2.5% in the world economy. In Ecuador, trade depends on the economic policy that the country manages this year.