Ecuador Sees Trade Deal With China At Year’s End, Debt Negotiations To Begin

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso speaks during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain November 2, 2021. Adrian Dennis/Pool via REUTERS

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QUITO, Feb 5 (Reuters) – Ecuador expects to strike a trade deal with China at the end of this year and will begin formal debt renegotiations with the Asian country, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso said on Saturday. after a visit to Beijing with his counterpart Xi Jinping.

China has become Ecuador’s largest lender over the past decade, with millions of dollars in long-term credit tied to the delivery of crude oil, major investments in hydroelectric and mining projects, and development. other loans.

“In China, we had a productive meeting with President Xi Jinping,” Lasso posted on Twitter. “We have achieved excellent results in trade openings, health cooperation and debt renegotiation.”

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During the meeting, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding intended to pave the way for a trade agreement at the end of the year, which would benefit Ecuadorian exports of shrimp, bananas, cocoa, other fruits and minerals.

Lasso, who took office in May, said more trade and foreign investment were key to boosting the South American country’s COVID-battered and cash-poor economy.

“It would increase the market by nearly $1 billion more in export opportunities,” Commerce Minister Julio Jose Prado said during a virtual press conference. “And that will mean we could almost double the exports we make to China in various products.”

The countries have agreed that their finance ministries will lead initial discussions on debt renegotiation, as Ecuador seeks to improve its payment terms and interest rates.

Ecuador is also seeking to disconnect the release of crude from outstanding debts with Chinese banks worth around $2.08 billion, according to Foreign Minister Juan Carlos Holguin, which would free up some $400 million. per year of potential expenses.

China will donate 2.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the inoculation of children aged 3 to 5, the Ecuadorian government added.

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Reporting by Alexandra Valence; Written by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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