Ecuador 2020 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

FEDEXPOR is directing the government to sign new trade agreements, reduce bureaucratic red tape, and implement a host of other measures to increase Ecuador's competitiveness in the global market.

Felipe Ribadeneira Molestina

Felipe Ribadeneira Molestina is the President of the board of directors of FEDEXPOR. Prior to that, he was the president of Fedexpor from 2009 to 2016. Molestina is an expert in internationalization services, investment support, private-public negotiation,s and foreign trade law. He specialized as a lawyer in business consulting from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador. He also has a master's degree in economic law and public policy.

What needs to be done to make the Ecuadorian exporting sector more competitive at an international level?

Ecuador's economy is dollarized, which means we have to constantly work to increase our competitiveness in order to safeguard the economy against political instability. This goal can be achieved through several areas of work, like developing and fulfilling a commercial agenda through signing new trade agreements that generate preferential access of our products and eliminate tariffs. International trade is a two-way road; hence, the signing of commercial agreements reduces the cost of acquiring raw materials and capital goods that are part of the productive process. The prices of goods reduce as the markets get more options. Moreover, we must reduce bureaucratic red tape. At the same time, it is equally important that we improve our logistical capabilities and the process of tax returns, as well as modernize Ecuador's labor relations. In other words, we must work to improve Ecuador's domestic agenda.

Looking at Ecuador's trade policy, what regions or countries are a priority?

Mexico is one of the most important countries because we cannot join the Pacific Alliance without having an FTA with Mexico. Additionally, we need to strengthen our trade relations with Central American countries because it is a big market for our industrialized products, which always helps to develop a portfolio of exportable products with added value. We are also interested in Canada and a number of markets in Asia.

What opportunities will emerge for the exports sector with the expected FTA with Mexico?

The main issue will be the productive chain and JVs. Mexico currently represents one of the countries that invests the most in Ecuador. The potential is huge, not only for the Mexican market, but also for the business opportunities that can be created to collectively try to conquer markets in Latin America and the world.

What are the main challenges to generate a more diversified export portfolio with higher added value?
We are in the process of undergoing an export portfolio revolution in Ecuador. We want to work on a National Exports Plan that will allow Ecuador to diversify its products by 2030. The potential is huge given Ecuador's agro and industrial potential. We want to develop a strategy that will focus on tripling Ecuador's non-oil exports by 2030. ✖