Dec. 2, 2021


Iván Ontaneda Berrú

Spain

Iván Ontaneda Berrú

Minister of Production, Trade, Investment, and Fisheries of Ecuador,

Ecuador has boosted its participation in European markets in the last few years, with a growing and permanent trade presence of products within Spain.

BIO

Iván Ontaneda Berrú is a prominent businessperson in the Ecuadorian cocoa industry with more than 30 years of experience in the sector. He has a degree in business management from Universidad Católica Santiago de Guayaquil. He also has an A.S degree in business and management from ICPR Junior College in Puerto Rico. He describes himself as an agroindustrial entrepreneur focused on sustainable business models. His vision and leadership led him to become CEO and founder of Eco-Kakao in 1994.


What has been the impact of the pandemic on Ecuador, and what key strategies has your ministry undertaken to mitigate this impact?

In March 2020, Ecuador became one of the first countries in Latin America to put biosecurity protocols in place and close its borders. These protocols were established to guarantee the non-oil exports of Ecuador and foreign trade, as well as the flow of food through logistical corridors. We wanted to show the world that Ecuador was capable of producing high-quality products and complying with strict biosafety and biosecurity protocols. Ecuador closed 2020 with historic growth in non-oil exports, exceeding USD15.5 billion. This represents an increase of 14% on the previous year. Today, I estimate the growth rate of Ecuador to be 8%. This was achieved through the timely measures we took as a government and the joint measures of the security protocols between the government and the productive sectors.

Ecuador is negotiating a new bilateral investment treaty with Spain. Which is the strategy and vision of your ministry in terms of trade with Spain?

The national strategy of the government has been to integrate Ecuador into the world. We have consolidated our relations with the EU. In addition, the Multi-Party Agreement has stimulated significant growth in terms of bilateral trade and economic relations. This makes it an efficient, effective, and productive agreement, since Ecuador has improved participation in European market, with better competitiveness and more products available from Ecuador. This has generated a circle of well-being, mainly in the agro-export sector, which has experienced significant growth. Similarly, more European products are coming to Ecuador, which allows people to choose and access more competitive prices. We are complementary economies. The fact that Ecuador is dollarized has been important for investors. Spain is increasingly consolidating its participation in different energy sectors. We have also signed investment contracts with the agricultural, tourism, and commercial sectors. All this was achieved thanks to the tool provided by the trade agreement, which generates certainty between the parties involved in investments and trade growth, as well as the internal strategy of the country. We now have a Productive Development Law that not only encourages and benefits investments, but, more importantly, creates the necessary legal framework for investors. Ecuador has signed close to USD3 billion in investment projects, which has generated more than 80,000 direct jobs. Spain is our strategic partner within the European Economic Community. We have a growing and permanent trade presence of products within Spain. It has become the logistics hub with many sectors in order to reach other European countries. The commercial presence of Spain in Ecuador has also grown.

Which are the main priorities of the ministry for 2021?

The trade agenda has always been a priority for the government and the state portfolio. The trade agreement with the EU was consolidated, and we signed the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). We also signed an agreement with the UK, in addition to a historic agreement with our main strategic partner, the US. Ecuador is once again on the table due to the coherence of the economic and productive policy of the country and the decisions that have been taken. We have been able to access important resources that have enabled us to meet the internal needs of Ecuador in terms of health, society, and productive reactivation. We are seeking out new markets so that Ecuador's exports continue to grow, and we continue to participate in more markets. We are currently working on the agenda of the Pacific Alliance, which is where business is oriented in the medium and long term. Ecuador is pushing toward a new direction of freedom and respect for the institutions of the country, which provides confidence for investment and work. The state has sought to modernize, become more efficient, and provide momentum to the productive sectors of the private sector, mainly micro, small, and medium-sized companies that make up the immense productive framework of Ecuador and boost the economy.

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