_ Quito, 18 July 2018.
Ecuador is optimistic it can reach a trade deal with the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) in the first half of 2019, the Andean nation’s foreign trade minister said Tuesday after meeting with his counterpart from that economic union.
Ecuador’s Pablo Campana and the EEC’s trade minister, Veronika Nikishina, took part in Quito in an initial meeting of the Joint Committee on Economic and Commercial Cooperation between Ecuador and the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
That bloc, whose executive body is the EEC, is made up of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.
The EAEU is a market of more than 180 million people that is Ecuador’s third-largest trade partner.
“Ecuador is characterized by the strength of its export products in the farm sector, aquaculture and fishing and products in the agro-industrial sector,” Campana said at a press conference in which he underscored the EAEU’s potential as a market for Ecuador.
In turn, he noted that the Andean nation imports raw materials that it does not produce, fertilizers, wheat and in some cases “medicine and chemical products.”
Trade between Ecuador and the EAEU nations amounts to more than $1 billion annually, although that represents only a small portion of both parties’ total exports and imports.
“The trade figures are small in comparison with the potential we have,” Nikishina said.
The EEC minister stressed the importance of diversifying the economic union’s trade relations and opening space for more products, noting that “Ecuador only exports four products to member states: bananas, flowers, coffee and seafood.”
“In the other direction, there are three deliveries that come from the (EAEU) to Ecuador: hydrocarbons, fertilizers and mineral products,” she said, adding that the two trade partners have “complementary economies.”
Campana said Tuesday’s meeting was meant to serve as a basis for promoting a trade agreement that could be finalized in the first half of next year.
In 2017, Ecuadorian exports to EAEU countries amounted to $872 million, although imports from those five nations to Ecuador barely exceeded $160 million, according to that South American country’s Foreign Trade Ministry.