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Cuenca to add electric buses in 2020, China debt refinancing is goal of Moreno trip, Ecuador will join Pacific trade alliance

Cuenca to add electric buses to city fleet by 2020

Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera announced Monday that 16 electric buses will be added to the city’s fleet of 450 diesel-powered buses by 2020. Cuenca joins Quito and Guayaquil, which also plan to add electric units to their public transportation fleets. Cabrera, who made the announcement at an electromobility forum at the University of Cuenca, said the electric buses will operate in areas that currently have high levels of vehicle exhaust, such as the historic district.

Electric buses on display in Quito last year.

He said the 16 buses are “just the beginning” of a program to convert to electric buses and will be a public-private partnership, with bus companies receiving favorable loan conditions and tax exemptions to make purchases. In addition to the new buses, the city will build 36 recharge stations.

The project will be funded in part by a $24 million loan from the government of South Korea.

Ecuador to join Pacific Trade Alliance

Ecuador plans to become a full member of the Pacific Alliance, Foreign Minister José Valencia said on Tuesday. The alliance is a trade organization that promotes commercial integration in the Pacific basin that currently includes Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Ecuador will join Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Singapore in an “observer” capacity, he says, before becoming a full member. “We look to the Pacific Alliance to continue Ecuador’s participation in the economic activity of the Pacific region and the world in the new century,” Valencia said.

Ecuador looks to refinance China debt

President Lenin Moreno will visit China in December to discuss refinancing the country’s debt with Chinese leaders. Ecuador owes the Chinese government $7.2 billion, 20.7 percent of the public external debt. According to Finance Minister Richard Martinez, the trip’s mission is two-fold: to reduce the financial burden on the national budget and to strengthen relations with China.

“Our immediate concern is to negotiate more favorable terms for repayment of our obligation,” he said. “China is an important source for financing projects of national interest and we want to maintain good relations for future funding but also guarantee that the terms of debt are favorable.”

Chinese loans have helped finance a number of large infrastructure projects in Ecuador over the last decade, including six large hydro-electric projects.