Spanish president pledges support for investments and elimination of EU visa requirement
In the first visit to Ecuador by a Spanish president in 20 years, Pedro Sánchez said he would push for the elimination of the Schengen area (European Union) visa requirement for Ecuadorian citizens, calling it “unfair” given the fact it does not apply to Peruvians and Colombians. He also pledged to promote increased trade and business cooperation between Ecuador and Spain.
“We share cultural roots with Ecuador and understand our responsibility to work cooperatively to improve the lives of Ecuadorians as well as other South Americans,” Sánchez said. He acknowledged that an estimated 400,000 Ecuadorians live and work in Spain, many of them holding dual citizenship.
During his Thursday visit with President Guillermo Lasso in Quito, Sánchez offered to increase cooperation on immigration and law enforcement matters, particularly in the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime. Lasso also received support from Sánchez to help fight child malnutrition, which Lasso called “one of my chief personal interests.”
Lasso said it is “unfortunate” that Ecuadorians do not have the right right of free travel in European countries that other South Americans have. “This would not be the case today if Ecuador had joined the trade agreement between Colombia and Peru with the European Union 10 years ago,” he said. “The government at the time refused to be a party to it, denying Ecuadorians access to the EU without a visa.”
Pointing out that Spain is Ecuador’s largest European trading partner, Lasso asked for Sánchez’s assistance in promoting Spanish investment in Ecuador. “Our invitation for investment comes in an environment of a strengthening economy and greater trust in our financial institutions,” Lasso said. “As we emerge from the ravages of the pandemic, we have rebuilt our international monetary reserve to nine percent of gross domestic product, the highest level in our history.”
In comments at a meeting with Sánchez and Ecuadorian business leaders, Lasso said that Ecuador has returned to the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Disputes. “We recognize our responsibilities in the worldwide business arena and believe this will build trust among investors.”
At the meeting Sánchez said he was “very interested” in working with Lasso to organize an Ibero-American Summit to be held in Quito. “Spain will host a summit between EU and Latin American leaders in the second half of 2023 and we welcome other gatherings to expand cooperation.”