CARLOS LUIS MORALES BENÍTEZ

Ecuador 2020 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

Guayas province meets 80% of the national food demand and is now creating a public company for the future development and dynamization of the agricultural sector.

Carlos Luis Morales Benítez
BIOGRAPHY

Carlos Luis Morales Benítez is currently the new prefect of Guayas and a member of the Christian Social Party. He previously served as a presenter of informative spaces for Ecuavisa and TC Televisión. He was chosen as the Best News Presenter of the Year in 2013 and 2014. He has a degree in journalism and a postgraduate degree in governance and public management.

What is Guayas province's contribution to Ecuador's economy?

Guayas province's economy is the largest among all the 24 provinces in Ecuador. It represents nearly 80% of the food and productive chain of domestic consumption in Ecuador. Nearly 87% of our land is arable, and we produce products such as banana, coffee, cacao, corn, and rice. Our province has been actively involved in recent years in the production of organic goods. The goal of our current administration is to restore the competitiveness of the province, and the only way to achieve that is to open Ecuador to international markets using Guayas as a gateway. The best way to increase exports is by signing new FTAs, which the current government is working on. Moving forward, we want to focus more on public-private cooperation. When I took office, I met with the relevant representatives from main chambers and business associations in our province to work on a vision for 2030. The vision's underlying goal is to establish an internationally competitive productive sector so that the provincial economy can become more resilient.

What steps can the provincial government take to further boost economic activity in Guayas?

We are thinking about developing a free trade zone in the province. Coastal regions in Peru and Colombia have been able to develop their competitiveness because of incentives such as special zones or investments in innovation. Promoting research in the main economic sectors of Guayas is one of our priorities. This will help us produce more value-added goods, especially in agriculture. We are considering creating a public company for the future development and digitalization of the agricultural sector. We have to focus on short-cycle crops. We have started to harvest moringa, a crop that grows within three months. We are also harvesting jicama, another that grows in three months. We should go for alternative crops and leave monoculture behind. The public company would identify crops that have high demand in international markets, so that our farmers can then harvest them. We will then take care of all the work to commercialize them abroad.

How is infrastructure being developed to serve the dynamization of key economic sectors?

This province has to develop more, especially water projects to bring more water to the region. The idea is to build a dam with the support of the central government and private investors to provide water to more than 120,000ha of land that we use to harvest rice and corn. We are also focusing on building new bridges and roads to connect Guayas with other municipalities and areas. The deep water port of Posorja started operations recently, and we are working on building a road to make the port better connected. This project would involve a 32-km road from Chongón to Posorja. We are aligning ourselves with Posorja Port because it is expected to move more than 1,200 TEUs.

The province is working actively with multilateral institutions. What can we expect from this cooperation?

We are renewing our working framework with the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) and have resumed talks with the Inter-American Development Bank (BID). We have their support for a total of USD100 million. Additionally, we have achieved a financing agreement for 32 bridges through the support of two European countries that will provide more than USD65 million. These projects are extremely important to bring development to the province.