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Ecuador hopes to negotiate trade agreement with Japan as soon as possible

During his first official visit to Japan, the Minister of Foreign Trade, Francisco Rivadeneira, said that Ecuador expects to start negotiations on a free trade agreement with Japan as soon as possible.

Rivadeneira stated this in at interview with Efe on the third day of his trip to Japan, during which he held meetings with his counterparts in the Japanese Executive and with the heads of financial and academic institutions as well as with the private sector.

The main objective of his trip, he stated, is to "show our commitment to strengthening our business relationship," said the minister, who added that 2018 marks 100 years of bilateral relations.

Trade between Ecuador and Japan currently amounts to nearly 600 million dollars a year, a volume that, according to Rivadeneira, "does not represent the real potential. Rivadeneira noted that Ecuador's business relationship with other countries in the region, such as China and South Korea had grown in recent years.

Business with Japan hasn't grown as much as with other countries due to the existence of barriers, such as tariffs or an ignorance of the Japanese business culture that is characterized by more extensive and demanding time requirements.

Ecuador seeks to formalize the dialogue held during the last two years with the Japanese authorities and to commence negotiation of future agreements as soon as possible.

However, the minister said that the talks would start in the medium term and that it all depended on the Japanese, but he insisted Quito had the will to start immediately.

In fact, Ecuador has already taken the first steps in this sense as they have hired experts involved in trade negotiations between Mexico and Japan, stated Rivadeneira, who added that the first formal step would be to conduct a joint study of the overall impact the agreement would have.

He also said that Ecuador didn't intend to reach an identical agreement to that sealed between Japan and other Latin American countries, such as Peru or Mexico, but that they wanted a "more limited agreement, that focuses on complementarity and respects the sensitivities of both sides."

The future agreement would mostly benefit the Ecuadorian agriculture and agribusiness sectors, and particularly the export of products such as mangoes, bananas, broccoli, cocoa, flowers or wood, plus their derivatives.

According to the minister, another goal of his visit was to attract more investments for Ecuador, especially from sectors such as oil, petrochemicals, shipyards, steel, metallurgy, energy, and telecommunications.

Several large Japanese companies are already working on major projects in Ecuador, such as the renewal of the Esmeraldas refinery, the largest in the country, or renewable energies (geothermal and hydraulic), said the minister.

"The Japanese think Ecuador is a huge opportunity," stated Rivadeneira, who noted that they especially appreciated the South American country's economic growth in recent years, as well as its political and social stability.

Rivandeira participated in a conference on bilateral relations organized by the Ecuadorian Embassy in Tokyo. Tomorrow, he will conclude his visit to Japan by having two meetings with representatives of Keidanren and the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Source: EFE
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