For 25 years, the Ecuadorian-China Chamber of Commerce (CCECH) has played a crucial role in developing trade relationships between Ecuador and China. Over the years, the Chamber has undertaken various activities, including trade missions that have taken thousands of entrepreneurs to China.
In our latest episode of the CW Latin Department podcast, María Lissette Albán, the Executive Director of the CCECH, joined us to discuss Ecuador’s evolving role and its relationships with China.
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Ecuador's Expanding Role in Bilateral Trade
In recent years, Ecuador has witnessed a substantial increase in its economic ties with China, making it a strategic country for both imports and exports. With the implementation of a free trade agreement, Ecuador has become the fourth Latin American country to negotiate such an agreement with China, after Chile, Peru, and Costa Rica. This landmark agreement has opened up vast opportunities for Ecuadorian exporters.
Ecuador, known for being a major supplier of crustaceans, shrimp, roses, and cocoa, has now seen expanded possibilities in exporting tuna and sardines to China. The agreement allows Ecuadorian products to enter the Chinese market with zero tariffs, giving a significant boost to the country’s exports. Additionally, Ecuadorian producers can leverage the import of capital goods, raw materials, machinery, and technology from China to enhance productivity and competitiveness.
Key to Success for Ecuadorian Entrepreneurs
To fully seize the opportunities presented by the growing relationship with China, María emphasized that Ecuadorian entrepreneurs must prioritize preparation and knowledge. Understanding the Chinese market, consumer habits, culture, and language are vital for successful business ventures. To address this, the CCECH has been actively organizing training and capacity-building projects.
According to the Chamber’s data, around 80%-85% of those who participated in the Chamber’s Trade Missions now have established substantial business relations with China. Some of them have become the largest importers of products made in China, representing well-known brands in Ecuador. For example, one entrepreneur with great vision, after attending a Chamber trade mission, managed to secure the exclusive representation and become the importer of the Tsingtao brand in Ecuador.
In a business context, understanding Chinese culture is of utmost importance. Lack of knowledge in this area may lead to inadvertent mistakes that could have adverse effects on major negotiations. For instance, simple actions like storing a business card in one’s pants’ pocket or scribbling on it could be perceived as disrespectful, potentially jeopardizing significant deals. Being mindful of cultural norms and practices can significantly enhance business interactions and foster successful outcomes in dealings with Chinese partners.
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The Significance of China-LAC Business Summit
The China-LAC Business Summit is an annual event that alternates between being held in China and a Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) country. It is organized by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and serves as an official economic and commercial event within the China-CELAC Forum. The Summit has been held 15 times since its inception in 2007, and has attracted thousands of entrepreneurs from both China and LAC.
In 2022, the 15th Edition of the China-LAC Business Summit took place in Ecuador. The Chamber played a key role in organizing the event, which was attended by representatives from the private sector and business chambers, as well as government officials from both China and Ecuador. The summit included a macro business roundtable, a plenary session on post-COVID-19 economic recovery, and cooperation forums dedicated to trade and investment, green industry, think tank initiatives, and digital collaboration.
The Chamber's Initiatives and Future Prospects
The CCECH is actively implementing initiatives in the second semester to foster bilateral business with China. These initiatives include networking events, the China Business Tour, and Expo China 2023. Expo China is a comprehensive event that will feature forums, conferences, cultural festivals, and even a Ping Pong tournament.
As Ecuador continues to strengthen its position in the region’s economic landscape, its partnership with China plays a pivotal role in driving growth and prosperity. The CCECH has been instrumental in facilitating fruitful business ventures and connecting entrepreneurs from both nations. With the free trade agreement in effect, Ecuadorian exports have received a significant boost, opening doors for substantial economic development. As Ecuadorian entrepreneurs seize these opportunities and address challenges, the future holds great promise for the nation’s economic collaboration with China.