Minister of Foreign Trade Juan Carlos Cassinelli announced Monday that the European Union Parliament will vote December 15 on the EU-Ecuador trade agreement. EU and Ecuador trade negotiators finalized details of the deal in November.
According to Cassinelli, the EU Foreign Trade Committee (INTA) unanimously approved the agreement last week, authorizing the final vote by the parliament. “We have every expectation that the parliament will approve the INTA agreement and that the trade deal will go into effect next year,” he said.
Ecuador’s National Assembly is expected to approve the agreement later this month.
The agreement covers hundreds of products from both Ecuador and Europe, and will eliminate import tariffs and special product taxes over a multi-year period. Among the items affected are automobiles, electronics, cosmetics, clothing, liquor, and a variety of other consumer goods.
Most important for Ecuador, Cassinelli says, is elimination of tariffs on agricultural and seafood products, including bananas and shrimp. Ecuador is the world’s leading exporter of bananas and one of the largest for shrimp and other seafood products.
The agreement will also benefit smaller agricultural crops, Cassinelli says, encouraging growth in coffee and cocoa production. “We have some of the highest quality products in the world in these areas and the agreement will allow them to reach a broader world market,” he said
The trade agreement appeared dead as late as October but several concessions by Ecuador brought it back to life. Ecuador agreed to eliminate a number of special “consumption” taxes on products, including cosmetics and liquor, and to eliminate quotas on car imports.