Ecuador has joined the free trade agreement that Colombia and Peru are already party to.

On November 11, 2016, the European Union (EU) trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, and the vice president of Ecuador, Jorge Glas, signed Ecuador’s accession to the free trade agreement (link in Spanish) between the EU and Colombia and Peru. Ecuador thus became the third member of the Andean Community to be included in the agreement.

The agreement will open up the markets of the two parties to one another, increase the stability and predictability of trade and investment in both directions, and will encourage inclusive, sustainable development. “It’s important that the agreement comes into effect soon so exporters, workers and citizens can start reaping the benefits. (…) trade is a key factor for growth and jobs in the EU but also for an economy like Ecuador, which wants to diversify and integrate into global value chains,” Ms. Malmström commented.

The agreement will allow Ecuador to benefit from better access for its main exports to the EU (link in Spanish), such as fishery products, cut flowers, coffee, cocoa, fruits, and nuts. The EU’s agriculture sector will benefit from increased market access for its products, and there will be gains for other specific products such as cars and machinery.

Bilateral trade in goods between the EU and Ecuador stood at €4.6 billion in 2015: the EU exported €2 billion to Ecuador and imported €2.6 billion. Negotiations for a trade agreement began in January 2009. Ecuador suspended its participation in these talks in July 2009, although Peru and Colombia continued with the process. In May 2013, Ecuador signaled its willingness to resume talks and join the agreement. Negotiations resumed in January 2014 and were concluded on July 17, 2014.