Shrimp processing plant. (Photo: MARM)
Trade agreement with EU expected before the year finishes
Friday, August 05, 2011, 22:50 (GMT + 9)
The Ecuadorian government plans to sign a trade agreement with the European Union (EU) in late November 2011, creating great expectations in the shrimp exporter sector.
This was announced by Nathalie Cely, Coordinating Minister of Production, Employment and Competitiveness (Mcpec) of Ecuador, after being approved by the country's president, Rafael Correa.
In this regard, José Antonio Camposano, chief executive of the National Chamber of Aquaculture (CNA), said: "We are pleased that the Government is fostering the implementation of an agreement with the EU, as this implies the maintenance of the access to the most important market for the country’s shrimp sector."
Currently, Ecuadorian shrimp producers are able to market and export 53 per cent of the national production, and Europe is the second largest trading partner of the country.
Between January and May 2011, Ecuador exported 155 million pounds of shrimp to the EU market for USD 400 million.
Ecuadorian shrimp producers have access now to Europe through the GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) tariff scheme, allowing them to pay an entrance or access fee of 3.6 per cent.
If the country does not sign a trade pact with the EU, the shrimp producer sector would pay a tariff of between 12 per cent and 20 per cent.
"This scenario will inevitably undermine the ability of Ecuadorian products to compete against other South and Central American producers that, thanks to their respective trade agreements with Europe, would have access to an entrance fee of 0 per cent to that market," said CNA.
It is expected that a bilateral technical meeting is scheduled to discuss the pending issues in relation to public purchases and services.
According to Mauro Mariani, political counselor of the EU delegation in Ecuador, the meeting will take place next September in Brussels, Belgium.
He also stressed that both parties intend to resume negotiations and reach a solution.
"What count are the institutional and public opinions that have been expressed by both the Ecuadorian and the European side," he added.
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By Analia Murias