Feb. 1, 2015

Antonio García Ruales


Antonio García Ruales

Executive Director, PRO ECUADOR


Antonio García Ruales has previously worked as Vice-Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Integration of Ecuador, he was head of the Commercial Office of PRO ECUADOR in Chile, and Ecuador Commercial Counselor in Peru. He has also worked as Regional Director of the University of Loja, he was a professor at Florida Atlantic University, and also contributed as an external consultant on foreign trade for SMEs in Ecuador.

What is the number one mission of PRO ECUADOR?

PRO ECUADOR, in reality, has two main objectives. One is the promotion of our consolidated export offer, and we also play a role in the promotion of new value-added products from the country. A second goal is the attraction of investment to Ecuador.

What kind of support does PRO ECUADOR provide for exporters?

One of the main features of PRO ECUADOR is the fact that we have 32 business offices around the world, working in about 1,000 activities related to the promotion of exports and investments in any given year. That means that every day, we have at least three or four activities going on somewhere in the world. I consider it vital that we offer the export sector such global promotion. We also have several tools that can be used in the promotion of Ecuadorean goods to the world, and these tools are basically designed in relation to each country where we have a presence. This strategy has been designed simply because we have different degrees of commercial relations with different countries. We can basically divide our consumer markets or targets into three groups: the countries with which we are just beginning to develop relations, those where we are at an intermediate stage, and those in which we enjoy fully developed commercial relations.

How do your export promotion strategies differ by market type?

There are two basic kinds of strategies supported by different tools or activities. We have image creation tools and sales development tools. They are related to the specific kind of activities we do in any of those markets. In a market that in which we are just beginning commercial relations, like Turkey for example, we mostly do image development activities. In intermediate markets, we do a mixture of image creation and sales development. In fully developed markets, we basically concentrate our activities and strategies on implementing incremental export sales from Ecuador. We also have more specific tools that are developed to help SMEs and major companies.

What would you say are the challenges for Ecuadorean companies looking to export?

We try to identify “complementary production platforms" in order to do business with them, because we produce what they don't. A company's first strategy should be to identify sectors in which it does not compete with that country. The same applies to the goods that we produce. In that sense, we rely heavily on the help that we get through our international officenetwork, which provides the cure strategic intelligence used in entering those markets. Another challenge that companies face is fostering an export culture to begin with.

What are the key areas in which Ecuador should be promoting investment?

I guess one of the main concerns of the government has been to develop Ecuador as a modern society and robust state. I do not know of any developed country that has achieved that stage, unless they have developed three basic areas: a solid infrastructure, a healthcare system capable of satisfying the population, and also a quality educational system. Those objectives are the main concerns of our government; we are working on achieving them to propel Ecuador into the future. I was recently contacted by a large foreign investor who said that they had selected Ecuador over another Latin American country because we have better highway infrastructure. We have chosen the right path to develop the Ecuador of the future. For the first time, this government knows exactly what we have to do and how to support the projection of our exports around the world. PRO ECUADOR is an example of that. We have only been here for three years, but we have opened up the world to Ecuadorean exports as never before.