Ecuador-China trade agreement being held up by Quito worries
A long mooted free trade deal between China and Ecuador is being held up by worries in Quito about cheap Chinese imports impacting certain sectors of the economy.
Ecuadorian seafood is at a tariff disadvantage entering China, which has free trade agreements in place with other major suppliers like Australia, Vietnam, Chile and Peru.
“Every time we raise the high tariffs [placed by China on Ecuadorian seafood] with them [Chinese authorities] they say ‘let’s do a trade deal’, they want it,” José Antonio Camposano, executive vice president of the Cámara Nacional de Acuacultura, a representative body, said.
The current administration in Quito is keen to move Ecuador back into the global trading system and is working hard on a free trade deal with South Korea, notes Camposano. Those talks will soon enter a fourth round.
However a glut of shrimp supply in the region is also challenging Ecuador – and is a driver behind the new Sustainable Shrimp Partnership (SSP) certification scheme launched by Ecuador to distinguish the production values of its product. Shrimp volume has increased out of Ecuador’s neighbors Venezuela and Peru, however much of the production is of “lower value” than Ecuador’s SSP certified product, according to Campasano. He also believes demand will ultimately “be there” for increased output and sees potential to increase sales of Ecuadorean shrimp in China by tapping online B2C commerce platforms there.
Likewise, he sees room for growth in sales in Ecuador’s second largest market, the E.U., pointing to France and Spain as two priority markets for growth. Countries with large Asian communities, such as Germany, are also full of potential as “they [Asian communities] are very familiar with shrimp” according to Camposano.