New China trade deal could have ‘massive economic impact’; Government declares Covid-19 emergency over; Impeachment trial could start May 20
The new trade agreement between Ecuador and China, signed on Wednesday, will have a “massive economic impact” on the country’s agricultural, seafood and manufacturing sectors, according to the Ministry of Production and Trade.
“We believe there will be an increase of at least $3 billion in exports in the first year of this arrangement,” the Ministry said in a bulletin. “China is Ecuador’s largest trading partner and the amount of goods moving between the two countries will only increase.”
Following 10 months of negotiations, Ecuador becomes the fourth Latin American country to sign a trade agreement with China.
The new agreement will allow preferential access for 99% of Ecuador’s current exports to China but without fees or tariffs, with shrimp, bananas, roses and cut flowers, cocoa, coffee, being most significantly affected.
In addition, products such as cheese, pork, chicken, pitahaya, pineapple, mango, blueberries, quinoa, processed foods, fresh and canned fruits, wood products, wooden accessories, handicrafts, among others, will arrive for the first time in China without restrictions.
The Ministry said that import tariffs will remain for some product coming from China to protect Ecuadorian producers. These will apply to some textiles, school shoes, ceramics, tires, furniture, sugar, rice, potatoes and corn, among others.
Covid-19 health emergency is over, government says
Following similar announcements in the U.S. and Europe, Ecuador on Thursday declared an end to the Covid-19 health emergency. The government also announced the closure of the National Health Emergency Operations Committee (COE).
Acknowledging a slow start to Ecuador’s campaign against Covid-19 in 2020, Vice President Alfredo Borrero said the country established one of the best records in the Western Hemisphere against the virus. “Our measures were successful in protecting the lives and health of citizens and proved that when Ecuadorians are united, we can accomplish great things.”
Health Minister José Ruales said that the end of the emergency does not mean that Covid-19 is gone. “We must be clear that the disease has not disappeared,” he said. “It has become integrated into the larger spectrum of respiratory illness, including influenza, the common cold and other conditions. We will remain alert to any changes in its status.”
The Health Ministry reports that from March 2020 to May 2023, 67,527 people died of Covid-19 and that 1,065,013 contracted the disease based on test results. It acknowledged that millions more were probably infected but were not tested.
Lasso notified of impeachment, trial could start May 16
The General Secretariat of the National Assembly notified President Guillermo Lasso on Thursday that his impeachment trial will begin later this month. A report detailing the charge of embezzlement was delivered electronically to the president.
According to sources close to Assembly President Virgilio Saquicela, the trial will begin on May 16.
The full National Assembly voted Tuesday to begin the trial, with 88 of 137 members voting yes. Impeachment and expulsion from office will require 92 votes.
National Police to add 5,000 recruits
The National Police announced plans Wednesday to recruit 5,000 more police personnel. In addition to entry level patrol officers, the police command said it hopes to recruit hundreds of “investigators and technicians” with college degrees to bolster the fight against criminal organizations.
The command said efforts will be taken to represent a “cross section of the Ecuadorian population” in the recruitment process. “We will make selections that will include representative numbers of women, the indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorians,” the command said.
The 5,000 new police personnel follow the addition of 6,000 recruits in January.