Ecuador's VP up on future China relations
Updated: 2014-02-04 06:18
By ZHAO YANRONG in Beijing (China Daily Latin America)
Reforms in both countries seen as advantageous to trade, exchange
China's reform and opening-up in the past three decades have established a great model for the developing countries in Latin America, said Ecuadorean Vice-President Jorge Glas, who called for further cooperation with China in new sectors to take bilateral ties to the next level.
Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao (right) meets with his Ecuadorian counterpart Jorge Glas Espinel in Beijing on Jan. 20. Wang Ye / Xinhua
Glas made the remarks in Beijing in late January, during his first trip to China since being elected vice-president in May.
"Similar to the 'Chinese dream', Latin Americans have the 'Latin American dream', and Ecuadorians are seeking the 'dream of Ecuador'," Glas said.
All those dreams are about improving people's living standards, eliminating poverty and social inequality, and optimizing the industrial structure and speeding up economic modernization, Glas added.
"We all want to be innovative in science and technology, and to realize sustainable development eventually," he said.
Glas said he believes that China's influence in the region has been deepening as bilateral economic cooperation has grown closer.
According to a study published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, China will surpass the EU as Latin America's second-largest economic partner after the United States by 2016, should current trends in exports remain steady, the International Business Times reported in December.
"Ecuador is willing to borrow more experience in economic development from China," Glas said. "This is a new step in continuing to strengthen relations with China."
Since its current constitution took effect in 2008, Ecuador has been undergoing a series of political and economic reforms.
Glas said the reforms have worked out well for the country so far. Ecuador is enjoying a high employment rate, and since 2007 has seen an annual average GDP growth of 4.3 percent, higher than the average in Latin America. The population living in poverty has also been continuously decreasing, he added.
"Ecuador has the most infrastructure investment in the northern region of South America, and we maybe have better roads than other countries in the region," he said.
While the government is seeking sustainable development, many challenges it faces make it value its cooperation with China, Glas added.
Glas said he also believes that China has significant experience in national development and abundant knowledge about technologies that can support Ecuador's reforms.
"We want to propose our important development plans to the Chinese government, financial institutions and enterprises," he added.
Glas met with his Chinese counterpart, Li Yuanchao, Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng and Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology.
Glas also attended a forum that promoted business opportunities to a number of Chinese companies in Beijing.
"The economies of Ecuador and China are highly complementary. While we receive financial and technological support from China, we export our goods and resources to China to meet their demands in development. In this win-win relationship, we are working together like good friends," Glas said.
Comparing his country's experience in negotiating with international institutions for support, Glas said China's support for Ecuador was always unconditional, which helped ensure bilateral cooperation based on mutual respect.
From January to November 2013, trade volume between China and Ecuador was $3.56 billion, an increase of 30.4 percent over the previous year. Ecuador's exports to China were about $540 million in the same period, increasing nearly 50 percent, while imports from China were $3.02 billion, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
"China has become Ecuador's fourth-largest trading partner in the world, and Ecuador is China's fourth-biggest overseas contracting market. We are one major investment destination and one important energy partner for China in Latin America," Glas said.
More than 70 Chinese companies have invested in Ecuador, and Glas expects more Chinese firms to come to the country this year.
"We have a significant geographic position in Latin America and good transportation facilities, while Chinese companies can use our country as a logistics base to cover the whole region. I believe the opportunities created by new roads, new ports and new airports will be invaluable for Chinese enterprises," he added.
Ecuador also hopes Chinese companies will bring more technologies to improve Ecuador's innovation capabilities, Glas said.
"We have special economic zones for new industries and technologies, and the country needs to be less dependent on exporting raw materials. We want to produce more value-added goods. With the support of China, we can do it," Glas concluded.