In a series of meetings with Chinese government and corporate officials Tuesday, President Lenin Moreno promoted Ecuadorian products and investment opportunities. He also signaled Ecuador’s interest in being a part of China’s massive “Silk Road” infrastructure project in Latin America.
Today, Moreno and his delegation meet with financial officials to discuss refinancing Ecuador’s multi-billion dollar debt to Chinese government agencies and banks. Prior to the visit, China said it was willing to provide Ecuador more favorable terms on outstanding loans.
Later in the day, Moreno meets and dines with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss a number of topics, including Ecuador’s involvement in the Silk Road project.
Called the largest infrastructure project in history, the Silk Road is a trillion-dollar Chinese investment program to build roads, rail lines, airports and hydro-electric projects with partner countries. Originally planned for Asia, Europe and Africa, Xi Jinping recently announced the project will have a Latin American component.
Citing the “complimentary interests” of the two countries, Moreno acknowledged China’s dominant position in world affairs. “China has become the benchmark for innovation and development in the 21st century,” he said. “Ecuador has a great deal to offer as China extends its interests throughout the world and we are eager to cooperate in a range of mutually beneficial financial, infrastructure and social projects.”
Moreno touted Ecuador’s location on the Pacific rim as an advantage for China, as well as the quality of its existing infrastructure. “The two countries have direct access to each other by sea routes and Ecuador offers investors an existing network of good highways and a reliable electric power grid,” he said. He cited a recent report in which Ecuador ranks second only to Chile for the best highways in Latin America.
In Tuesday’s trade talks, the focus was on Ecuador’s major exports, such as seafood, bananas, rice and flowers, but also covered what Ecuador Foreign Trade Minister Pablo Campana called “emerging market products,” such as coffee, chocolate and hand-crafted goods. “It is important that Ecuador diversify beyond oil to develop trade in new markets,” he said. “This is a primary objective of our trade and investment discussions in China.”
During the visit, Ecuador and China plan to sign a wide range of agreements on such issues as judicial cooperation, civil aviation, disaster risk management, agricultural and technical cooperation.