The strategy we have is quite different from what any other trade promotion organization does, in that we act like traders for other companies. So far we have seven clients that pay us a fee to sell their products, not only to promote them, but also to sell goods and close negotiations with buyers. This carries a risk because if you are the seller, you are responsible for the profitability. Trade promotion organizations go as far as to put the seller and buyer together, but then the closing of the deal has to be done by the private sector. In our case, we close the deal, we do the sale, and we get a percentage from it. In 2011, CORPEI conducted around 60% to 70% of its trade shows outside of the country. We were able to do this by transferring funds from the previous years to programs to be carried out in 2011, in order to find out if and how firms would buy services in the new scheme. We were very active at local trade fairs, and I can safely say that we will be continuing with these activities. We are organizing a big event in Ecuador called EXPO USA 360° in 2012, and we want to institutionalize this as one of CORPEI’s big events. We are doing this in partnership with the local American Chamber of Commerce. We are trying to institutionalize some events that will be CORPEI’s own and continue our participation in the most important international trade shows that we have participated in over the last years.
“Ecuador Industrial” was the most successful project the Chamber of Industries of Guayaquil carried out in 2011. It was a national conference where medium and large companies in industry and commerce gathered to buy products, services, and parts from SMEs. We were able to transfer technological advantages and knowledge between companies of all sizes, and enable small companies to find credit from public and private banks. The Ministry of Industry and Productivity (MIPRO) played a major role by helping companies meet standards of excellence. SMEs were able to learn about formality, delivery time, and quality. We encouraged those companies to be more formal and transparent. We also substituted $74.2 million worth of exports in those two days, while giving business to local SMEs. We also have a lot of social responsibility projects, separate from MIPRO. We are building the System for Labor Integration (SIL) to get people with disabilities into the economy. We are offering training courses and preparing them to be a part of the workforce with equal conditions. We are the bridge between the private sector and the government. We explain to foreign investors where to invest, what to invest in, and what the advantages are of investing in Ecuador. The chamber also advises them on who to invest with, and encourages them to talk openly with the government, in case the government needs their investment specifically.
The government of Ecuador seeks to reduce the country’s dependence on exports to the US by exploring new potential markets. However, this does not mean that the authorities want to reduce the overall percentage of exports to the US. Businessmen open new markets for our products, and even though the government is working to open new markets in Asia and the Middle East, these countries are not used to our main export products. Therefore, there is less potential in the immediate future. I believe that in the long term these could be excellent markets for our main export products. In addition, both the US and European markets have more than 250 million inhabitants each, which comprises a huge market for us. One of our main targets at the moment is to increase our presence within the business community through events. AmCham is working to broaden its range of activities, in terms of customs, tourism, logistics, entrepreneurship, and our relationship with the government. The mining industry is one of the sectors with the best potential to attract FDI to Ecuador. The agriculture and fishing industry, especially the shrimp segment, are also very attractive sectors for foreign investors; we have many climatic zones and very fertile soil. In this regard, I personally believe that the wine industry will bring much profit in the medium to long term.
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