Expecting a rocky start to 2022, Ecuadorian exporters say they are “more than pleased” with shipments in the first quarter of the year. “We didn’t know what to expect given the continuing pandemic and the war in Ukraine,” says Xavier Rosero, vice president of the Ecuador Exporters Federation (Fedexpor). “We had advised our members to be prepared for losses but, instead, we had 30 percent growth over the same period of 2021.”
Rosero says he is especially pleased with rising exports to China and Russia despite Covid-19 lockdowns and political sanctions. “Exports to China increased 113 percent from January through March and they were up 30 percent to Russia after we made new payment arrangements due to international banking issues.”
Although numbers for the second quarter won’t be available for two months, Rosero expects April through June exports to also be strong. “There are more challenges in the second quarter due to shipping issues but, so far, the situation is very positive.”
Shrimp exports showed the strongest growth in the first quarter, up almost 50 percent overall with a 112.5 spike to Chinese sales, according to the Central Bank of Ecuador. Although banana exports dropped by almost a quarter following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, they recovered to show only a 7 percent decline for the quarter. “Russia is our largest market for bananas and we have seen a large rise in shipments in April and May and expect the sector to do well for the rest of the year,” Rosero said.
In the first quarter, all experts to Russia increased by 5.9 percent.
Rosero cautioned that the export market remains “complicated” due to pandemic, war and transportation issues. “Higher fuel costs are also playing a role in the situation but, given all that we see, Ecuador exporters feel good about 2022.”
In addition to shrimp and bananas, Ecuador’s other major exports showed improving numbers in the first quarter over 2021.
Mining shipments totaled $689 million for the quarter, up 82 percent from 2021. Cut flower exports totaled $279 million, a 5.5 percent increase from 2021, while tuna shipments increased 6 percent, to $311 million.