Ecuador industry says EU deal is matter of "life or death"

e-mail icon

Roberto Aspiazu, Chair of the Ecuador Business Council, calls for trade deal to safeguard Ecuador banana industry.

Signing an Association Agreement with the European Union "is a matter of life and death" for the Ecuadorian banana industry. This was the message from the Chair of the Ecuador Business Council, Roberto Aspiazu, in a television interview. By 2020, bananas from Central America, Colombia and Peru will all attract an EU import tariff of nearly 40 euros per tonne less than bananas from Ecuador, unless a trade deal is struck with Brussels.

Given that it was Ecuador who led over a decade of efforts in the World Trade organisation to lower EU banana import tariffs, it would indeed be ironic that it is the only Latin American exporter left paying 114 euros/tonne by the end of the decade.

Aspiazu criticised the Ecuadorian government for having no coherent political vision on the issue. However, Brussels did not hesitate to go ahead with bilateral trade agreements with Colombia and Peru, leaving out the other two members of the Community of Andean Nations (CAN) - Ecuador and Venezuela. Quito, ever since President Rafael Correa came to power, has expressed doubts about the benefits to Ecuador of what the EU had put on the table for CAN.

As it stands, though, noted Aspiazu: "A European importer who buys 30 million boxes a year of Ecuadorian bananas a year would obviously go and buy them in Costa Rica or Colombia  and save US $30 million. This is a good example of how important an agreement is for Ecuador".

Source: Diario Correa, Machala, 13th June 2011