Court approves Lasso’s trade deal with China; New prison uprising is ‘under control’; Chinese automaker produces first pickups at Ambato factory

Nov 2, 2023 | 0 comments

Ecuador’s Constitutional Court has approved the trade agreement signed in May between Ecuador and China. The court requested that the new National Assembly review and okay the deal as one of its first official acts.

Under rules of President Guillermo Lasso’s cross death decree, the court was required to rule if the agreement was constitutional.

Former Trade Minister Julio José Prado applauded the court’s decision, claiming it is a “great achievement” for the Lasso presidency. “This pact will have major ramifications for Ecuador and will generate thousands of new jobs as well as substantial Chinese investment,” he wrote on his Twitter account. “China will soon be Ecuador’s largest trading partner and this agreement will expedite the process.”

Managers and employees of the Great Wall Motor Company factory in Ambato celebrate the production of a new line of light trucks.

He said the agreement faces little opposition in the Assembly.

Prado, who was part of Ecuador’s negotiating team in Bejing, said that certain Ecuadorian products are excluded in the agreement. “This is not a free trade agreement by the standard definition. It protects some industries that could be undersold by Chinese products.”

He added: “China will not invade Ecuador with cheaply produced products, as some have suggested. On the other hand, however, Ecuadorian companies will have access to cheaper technology and raw materials that it needs to be competitive in national and world markets.”

Two artisanal crafts associations have challenged the agreement, claiming it will put Ecuadorian craftspeople out of business.

Officials say latest prisoner uprising is ‘under control’
Ecuador’s national prison authority says disturbances at five prisons, including the Turi Penitentiary in Cuenca, have been controlled “without yielding to the intimidation and extortion of a certain organized crime group.”

In a statement, the National Prison Service (SNAI) said that prison law enforcement agents “have asserted their authority and the prisons have returned to relative normality.”

According to officials, prisoners belonging to the Los Lobos gang took an unknown number of prison guards and administrative personnel hostage in prisons in Cuenca, Loja, Cotopaxi, Archidona and Ambato Wednesday afternoon. They presented demands that some prisoners be relocated to other facilities.

Although SNAI said the situation was controlled, it did not say whether all hostages have been released.

Chinese factory in Ambato produces first pickup trucks
Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor Company rolled its first light trucks off the production line last week at its factory in Ambato. In operation since 2009, Great Wall’s Ciauto plant has produced a variety of SUVs and heavy trucks sold throughout Latin America.

At a ceremony celebrating production of a new line of pickup trucks, Great Wall managers said the company plans to expand the production facility and hire as many as 200 new employees in 2024 and 2025.

No blackouts for the holidays
There will be electric blackouts for the four-day holiday weekend, November 2 to 5, Deputy Minister of Electricity, Juan José Espinosa said Tuesday. He said the ministry is also evaluating the need for future blackouts.

“We want Ecuadorians to enjoy themselves at the festivals this week without worrying about power outages,” he said, adding that recent rains and new power transmissions from Colombia have made the emergency more manageable.

Espinosa cautioned that the drought is not over and that flow levels at the country’s two largest hydro-generations plants at Mazar-Paute and Coca Coda remain below optimal levels. “The electricity crisis is not over but the good news is that water levels have risen as a result of recent rains and generation capacity has increased.”

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