The parliament of the European Union approved the trade agreement reached in October by negotiators for Ecuador and the European Union (EU). The vote was 544 for, 144 opposed with 44 abstentions. The vote was assured Tuesday afternoon following resolution of a last-minute trade conflict between Ecuadorian bananas and those produced in the Spanish Canary Islands.
Ecuador agreed to allow some special protections for the Canary Island crops, satisfying concerns of Spanish EU representatives.
“We have an agreement on bananas!” tweeted European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. “Bananas for everyone.” Earlier, during banana discussions, Malmström had referred to Ecuador as “the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to the banana business.” Ecuador is the world’s top exporter of bananas.
With the signing of the agreement, Ecuadorian products such as flowers, shrimp, bananas and tuna, will have access to one of the world’s largest unified markets, beginning in 2017. The government says production in these sectors will increase dramatically under the agreement, as well as production in smaller industries such as cocoa, coffee, leather goods and Panama hats.
The agreement also means that Ecuadorian consumers will have access to hundreds of European manufactured goods including cosmetics, clothing, automobiles, and liquor.
To reach the agreement, Ecuador agreed to phase out special consumption taxes on imported products as well as import tariffs.
Ecuador continues to negotiate bi-lateral trade deals with other countries, including South Korea.