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Ecuador accelerates the procedures of the agreement with the EU

It took nine years of negotiations, three Ministers for Foreign Trade, and intense negotiation rounds, which came to an end in 2014, so that Ecuador could sign a trade agreement with the European Union (EU) Friday, November 11.

After the signing of the multi party agreement between Ecuador and the EU, in Brussels, Belgium, the delegation led by Jorge Glas, the Vice President of the Republic, and Juan Carlos Cssinelli, the Minister for Foreign Trade, will return to the country to speed up its approval in the assembly. The Foreign Ministry plans to send the certified documentation of the trade agreement to the Presidency of the Republic.

The Executive branch is expected to give this documentation to the Constitutional Court (CC) on Monday November 14 so that they can issue a ruling based on the Ecuadorian legislation.

According to Cassinelli, the CC will then issue a ruling that will be forwarded to the Presidency. After that, the a dossier will be sent to the Assembly, where a specialized committee will review the agreement and send it to the plenary for approval.

Meanwhile, in the EU, Parliament is expected to review the deal in the week of Dec. 12, according to Cecilia Malmström, the European Commissioner for Trade. After this procedure the agreement is expected to go into effect on January 1, 2017.

Some of the main products that Ecuador will send to the European Union and that have a good acceptance in that market include bananas, shrimp, cocoa, flowers, coffee, tea, canned products, broccoli, among others.

According to data from the Central Bank of Ecuador (BCE), exports to the EU between January and August this year amounted to 1,886 million dollars and left a positive trade balance for the country of 773 million dollars.

Malmström stated in an email that the Europeans "value the excellent quality of Ecuadorian products, such as bananas, shrimp, tuna, cocoa and flowers."

According to the Commissioner, the economies of the EU and Ecuador are complementary. She also stated that the trade policy of the EU can support Ecuador's development through the transfer of technology and innovation and that this agreement would help small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) become more international.

The European market is of vital importance for producers of broccoli. Rafael Gomez de la Torre, president of the Ecuadorian Fruit and Vegetable Association, said that if their sector would have disappeared if the country didn't sign the trade agreement because the tariff preferences that benefitted them were going to expire at the end of the year. 

The head of the union said that nearly 40% of the country's broccoli exports were sent to Europe and that they were currently looking to invest to increase their production and sales. De la Torre said that broccoli exports amounted to nearly 100 million dollars a year and that he expected that, thanks to the agreement, exports would increase by at least 10% over the next five years.

Moreover, Europe also plans to increase its investments in Ecuador, according to Daniel Rosero, spokesman for the EU. "The agreement provides better investment rules and therefore goes far beyond trade."

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