Ecuador and Mexico report “substantial progress” toward a free trade agreement following the ninth round of negotiations held May 23 to 27 in Quito. Signing a final agreement is especially important for Ecuador as it will pave the way for its entrance into the Pacific Trade Alliance.
“The negotiating teams of both countries held high-level technical meetings in which significant progress was made with a view to closing the agreement,” Ecuador’s Minister of Production and Foreign Trade Julio José Prado said Monday.
The latest round of talks addressed such issues as market access, rules of origin, sustainable fishing, commercial defense, institutional matters, and services and investment.
Difference remain to be resolved regarding the trade status of shrimp, bananas and tuna, since both countries are producers, but officials say the conflicts are in the process of being settled.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso met in April, with the trade agreement at the top of their agenda. “It is crucial to both of our countries to finish work on the Productive Integration Agreement as it will strengthen our respective economies,” Lasso said.
Lopez Obrador agreed, saying that a unified trading bloc of major Latin American economies will give it “added weight and authority in the international trade community.”
Mexico was represented at the Quito talks by Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade Luz Maria de la Mora and her Ecuadorian counterpart Daniel Legarda, as well as representatives from both countries’ private productive sectors. Negotiations began in 2019 toward the trade agreement.
Comprising Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, the Pacific Trade bloc currently represents the world’s eighth largest economy and 38 percent of the gross domestic product of Latin America and the Caribbean.