Ecuador, Peru and Colombia signed a new trade deal with Great Britain on Thursday ahead of Britain’s planned departure from the European Union.
The deal, which was signed by representatives of the four countries in Quito, will keep tariff preferences for the South American countries in place when and if Britain leaves the EU, Ecuador’s trade minister said.
The three countries already have an existing trade agreement with the EU.
“This demonstrates the importance for the United Kingdom of trade with the region of northwestern South America where there are already thousands of companies from the UK engaged, but we want the number to continue to increase,” said Katherine Ward, Britain’s ambassador to Ecuador. She also pointed out that four percent of the fruit consumed in the UK comes from Ecuador.
Ecuador President Lenin Moreno said the agreement with Britain is essentially the same as the agreement that Ecuador, Peru and Colombia have with the EU. “It’s practically the same, with small changes, so it protects all parties when Britain leaves the EU,” he said. “Our intent is that there be no economic surprises when the separation occurs.”
The four-country agreement must be approved by the Constitutional Court, Ecuador’s highest court, but Moreno said he expects no judicial opposition.