EU and Ecuadorian negotiators have sealed a deal in Brussels that will allow Ecuador to join its Andean neighbours Peru and Colombia in their trade agreement with the EU.
The agreement will allow Ecuador to benefit from improved access for its main exports to the EU – products including bananas, cut flowers, coffee, cocoa, fruits, nuts and fish.
The terms of the new arrangement go beyond the unilateral EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences, for which Ecuador is no longer eligible, an EU statement read. The Agreement will also provide improved access to the Ecuadorian market for many key EU exports, for example in the automotive sector or for alcoholic beverages.
However, the agreement will not only secure access to markets; more importantly it will also create a stable and predictable environment that will help boost and diversify trade and investment on both sides.
'I'm delighted we've been able to conclude this ambitious and comprehensive agreement with Ecuador,' said EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht. 'It will boost our bilateral trade and investment, and act as an important driver for development in Ecuador.
"The agreement will provide for a solid and predictable framework for Ecuadorian and European traders and investors and will also contribute to regional integration in one of the fastest-growing markets for European firms in Latin America," he added. "We now have to take the necessary steps to make sure the agreement is applied as quickly as possible."
The European Union and Ecuador will now proceed with the necessary legal revision of the agreed documents in order to be able to submit the final deal to their respective internal ratification procedures.
In 2013, trade with Ecuador reached €4.9bn (€2.3bn exports; €2.5bn imports), where a constant positive trend is observed, which should be further strengthened now that a trade agreement has been concluded. Some 30 per cent of Ecuador's exports are represented by bananas, for which the concluded agreement foresees an important preferential arrangement.