2007" sets the stage for a trade framework
to improve the international outreach of Ecuador.
How did the plan evolve?
The aim of the government as a whole is
to create the atmosphere of credibility,
stability and to create unity between the
Public and the private sectors in order
to make to economy stronger. This strong
base of a economic and social connection
is reflected in the President's vision:
to fight poverty through work and by attracting
We have learned that we cannot create if
we do not work as a team. I have accepted
this challenge because I believe that together
we can establish a stable fiscal system
and to find solutions to the other issues
like corruption. So this is the basis for
which we launched this medium-to-long-term
project: "Ecuador 2007".
This project aims to promote the trade
sector, yet it also recognised that we also
need to develop the productivity base of
this sector. Our goal is to show to the
rest of the world that Ecuador is not only
famous for its traditional bananas, coffees,
roses, tuna, and vegetables, but it is also
rich in value-added products which investors
will find once they arrive here. We propose
to promote exports by attracting investors.
Another important goal is the promotion
of local and foreign investments, which
has led to a strong collaboration with COMEXI
to implement legal measures which will guarantee
the security of investors and to guarantee
the return on their investments.
We are also preparing future trade negotiations
for which we are in the process of recruiting
international trade consultants. Yet we
also believe in the development of social
trade, which we have outlined in our plan:
"Ecuador al alcanse de todos"
(Ecuador at the reach of everyone). This
idea started with the promotion of electro-domestic
products that are available at low prices
through long-term payments, and it will
continue with access to low-cost, high quality
shoes, textiles, furniture, food as well
as a community centres that offer access
to computers, printers and faxes.
Moreover, we are establishing a major shrimp
cultivation program with new technologies.
Many people know that Ecuador is the first
producer of bananas in the world, but not
many people know that Ecuador is second
in the world for farming shrimps.
Do you believe that dollarization, although
it might have provided stability for the
country, has scared off investors because
of the high cost of doing business and producing
locally for export markets?
I think the situation is both positive
and negative. American or European economies
have prices higher than we have, therefore
we are still competitive. We should not
forget that the dollarization has brought
stability in Ecuador, with less risk and
Meanwhile, regional exports have become
much more expensive when we compare with
other countries such as Peru and Colombia
because of their devaluation, and that is
why we cannot compete with them. To overcome
to this problem we need to work harder and
be more competitive by bringing in more
technologies in order to improve our value-added
production and create more quality with
Certain sectors of the economy already
produce quality products, such us roses,
cacao and bananas - yet we are not in the
position to provide large quantities as
well. To achieve this aim, we are working
with National Council for Competitiveness
in order to improve our competitive edge
and to adopt new technologies.
Chile has developed its wine and salmon
industries to become booming sectors for
export sales. Their key success was to develop
niche markets - do you believe that this
is the strategy that Ecuador should adopt?
The niche market can definitely be seen
as the future of the Ecuadorian economy.
Similarly, Chile has concentrated on the
development of a few key products and supported
this tendency with marketing efforts that
promoted the quality of its products worldwide.
In comparison, Argentina may cultivate the
same quality of wine but they have not promoted
their product as well as Chile has done.
Therefore, we propose to develop niche markets
and transform good products into great products.
A country that is dependent on oil resources
often forgets some of its other natural
assets. So at the same time we are intent
on developing existing markets and developing
new ones in order to diversify our economy.
actually do not know that Ecuador is the world's
first producer of bananas
belongs to Ecuador
and that you cultivate
the most beautiful roses in the world
Yes, I feel frustrated when I hear this
commentary; some people ask me if I ever
been to Galapagos in Peru! Similarly, most
people do not know where their bananas come
Therefore, part of our efforts
is the development of a national brand which
will promote Ecuador in the world for what
it is and for what it has to offer. Ecuador
is an amazing country, it is not only banana
or roses; we have exotic fruit and exotic
flowers thanks to the quality of our land,
the climate and the direct light from the
sun. For example, we have the best quality
cacao in the world because of the fertility
of the Ecuadorian soil, yet unfortunately
it is only being mixed with other cacaos,
so most people do not even know that Ecuadorian
cacao is one of the best.
Another example of our lack of national
branding is the "Panama Hat";
few people know that the Panama Hat is from
Ecuador, made in the cities of Montecristi
and Cuenca. These are only few examples
of the huge work we need to do in order
to promote our national production as an
internationally recognised Ecuadorian product.
Do you believe that Ecuador can realistically
establish bilateral trade treaties with
countries such as Canada or Mexico in the
short term, or is it only a dream in the
First we need to extensively work through
Andean Trade Pact to establish guidelines
and enter into a treaty that incorporates
zero taxes with unlimited quantities. This
is a first step towards the FTAA.
Through the Andean group we are negotiating
Canada, which is an advantage since a bilateral
agreement would take much longer to conclude.
If we work as a trade block we will be stronger,
which can later support greater collaboration
with the USA, Mexico and Canada. We have
adopted a global vision which encourages
us to work with all countries, not only
the Unites States.
Are you going to protect some of the
export-oriented sectors, such as the fishing
and meat industries?
We will protect them to a certain point.
The USA is protecting some of its strategic
sectors, so we will also do the same, and
that is one of the reasons for which we
are negotiating before taking adopting new
It was thought that the Korean company
LG was heavily investing in the country,
yet the investment did not materialise,
which has left the government with false
hopes and empty hands. So what can we expect
as far as investment opportunities are concerned?
The energy sector is very important for
the future of Ecuador, and numerous foreign
companies are positioning themselves to
invest in the national oil and gas sector.
For example, I was recently in Qatar where
there was a great deal of interest to invest
in Ecuador, which paved the way for the
upcoming arrival of a commercial delegation.
President Gutierrez has been travelling
in the Middle-East, first in Qatar, and
then to Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Egypt.
We have also been developing trade relations
in Europe, where many companies such us
Shell from Holland and Total from France
are ready to invest here. Even though it
is true that Agip is planning to leave the
country, Burlington is ready to buy its
We are working on all the aspects of our
legislation to offer investors the best
possible conditions and legal guarantees.
These companies are interested because they
are aware of the potential that this country
has -we are have built a second pipeline
and the country has a great deal of oil
reserves to be exploited, with over 5 billion
barrels in reserve. Although we have not
exported the same amounts as we used to
- exports are down to 160.000 barrels from
a previous maximum of 300.000 barrels -
we have projected a production which will
reach 850.000 barrels in the coming year.
How do you manage such a wide range
In order to overcome this difficult period,
Ecuador needs people that believe in it
and that have the passion to work tirelessly
to achieve their goals. I follow a team
philosophy by bringing together the best
people under one team. I believe that leadership
should be shared by everyone - only this
way can we work together towards one goal
and can walk in the same direction. For
example, during the first months of my tenure
we all worked together to design the guidelines
of a new strategy which has set the tone
for "Ecuador 2007". I work with
passion and I transmit this passion to all
people working and collaborating with me.