China, Ecuador sign deals to boost ties

Updated: 2015-01-07 13:53


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A raft of agreements were sealed between China and Ecuador in Beijing on Wednesday amid the oil-reliant Andean nation's efforts to tackle a budget shortfall caused by plunging oil prices.

The nine agreements, signed after talks between President Xi Jinping and his Ecuadorian counterpart Rafael Correa, extend the timeline of two loans and boost cooperation in the financing, education and technology sectors.

The countries also announced an upgrade of their 35-year-old ties to a strategic partnership.

Xi highlighted the importance of financial cooperation, calling for both countries to promote links in energy, electricity, mining, infrastructure, agriculture and high-end technology.

Referring to China as a leading financial backer of Ecuador, Correa said many Chinese enterprises in Ecuador have contributed greatly to the country's development.

China has granted a $5.3 billion credit line to Ecuador, and the country will utilize the loan on social projects, transport and infrastructure, Ecuador's official media said on Tuesday.

The news came as the smallest OPEC member faces challenges from a plunge in global oil prices which on Monday forced the government to cut its 2015 budget by 4 percent.

The Ecuador government will tap $1.5 billion this year of the 30-year credit, which carries a 2 percent annual interest rate, El Ciudadano newspaper quoted Ecuador's Finance Minister Fausto Herrera as saying.

On Thursday morning, Xi and Correa will participate in the opening ceremony of the first ministerial forum between China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States in Beijing.

Ecuador will be the next nation to hold the 33-member CELAC rotating chairmanship after Coast Rica's term expires.

Carrea's five-day trip to China will also take him to Shanghai before his visit concludes on Friday.

Reuters contributed to this story.