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Re­la­tions be­tween Ecuador and China have been ex­em­plary in terms of South-South co­op­er­a­tion, and the coun­tries should work on re­al­iz­ing greater po­ten­tial in the ties, said Jose Maria Borja Lopez, the Ecuadorean am­bas­sador to China.

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s visit to Ecuador, be­gin­ning on Thurs­day, will be the first by a Chi­nese pres­i­dent to the South Amer­i­can coun­try since diplo­matic re­la­tions were es­tab­lished in 1980.

Sev­eral agree­ments, in­clud­ing on fi­nanc­ing, public in­for­ma­tion and tech­ni­cal co­op­er­a­tion, are ex­pected to be signed dur­ing the visit, ac­cord­ing to Borja.

“Ecuador found in China a fun­da­men­tal ally to carry out its devel­op­ment plans at a time it was most needed,” said the am­bas­sador, adding that Chi­nese in­vestors in Ecuador are ef­fi­cient and have met devel­op­ment re­quire­ments of the coun­try.

Chi­nese com­pa­nies have joined Ecuadorean projects in oil, trans­porta­tion and hy­dropower.

Ac­cord­ing to Borja, the Latin Amer­i­can coun­try, for which oil is a pil­lar in­dus­try, has trusted Chi­nese com­pa­nies with “im­por­tant oil fields”.

An­other ex­am­ple of in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment is the Chi­nese-in­vested Coca Codo Sin­clair hy­dropower plant.

The largest hy­dropower project in­Ecuador, it is ex­pected to in­crease the coun­try’s elec­tric­ity sup­ply by about 30 per­cent when fully op­er­a­tional, ac­cord­ing to the eco­nomic and com­mer­cial coun­selor’s of­fice of China’s em­bassy in Ecuador.

“Over the past nine years, we have strength­ened co­op­er­a­tion, es­pe­cially in ar­eas of tech­ni­cal co­op­er­a­tion, tech­nol­ogy trans­fer and fi­nanc­ing,” said Borja, adding that China is “a strong ally in the in­fra­struc­ture pro­jec t s un­der­taken by the Ecuadorean govern­ment”.

Bi­lat­eral re­la­tions have en­tered what both s i d e s de­scribed as “the best stage in his­tory” since after they es­tab­lished a strate­gic part­ner­ship dur­ing Ecuadorean Pres­i­dent Rafael Cor­rea’s visit to China in Jan­uary last year.

Among the agree­ments the two coun­tries have signed is a deal on mu­tual visa ex­emp­tions that took ef­fect in Au­gust. Un­der the agree­ment, Chi­nese tourists are now able to stay in Ecuador for up to 90 days a year with­out a visa.

Borja said the deal has helped at­tract more Chi­nese tourists to the An­dean coun­try, and “this year will end with more than 17,000 Chi­nese tourists vis­it­ing Ecuador”.

China-Ecuador co­op­er­a­tion has even more po­ten­tial, the am­bas­sador said.

“A key co­op­er­a­tion el­e­ment should be the train­ing of hu­man re­sources, which trans­lates to an in­crease in schol­ar­ships for Ecuadorean stu­dents, as well as the op­por­tu­nity for more young peo­ple to learn Man­darin Chi­nese and about the Chi­nese ex­pe­ri­ence of devel­op­ment,” Borja said.

In ad­di­tion, he said, Ecuador would like to in­crease ex­ports to, and cut the trade deficit with, China.

Co­op­er­a­tion with China is “sig­nif­i­cant not only for Ecuador, but for other Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries”, and such co­op­er­a­tion “will con­tinue to be fun­da­men­tal” for the devel­op­ment of Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries, the am­bas­sador said.

Jose Maria Borja Lopez

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