France and Ecuador

Political relations

President Correa made an official visit to Paris and Lyon on 6-8November2013. His meeting with President Hollande resulted in a joint statement in which they agreed to develop scientific, academic and cultural cooperation and to strengthen trade between the two countries. This visit helped to give new impetus to the bilateral relationship.

Prior to that, several high-level discussions took place during autumn 2012:

  • Bilateral consultations in Paris on 26October, chaired by the Deputy Secretary-General of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Deputy Minister for Foreign Relations, Mr Marco Albuja. On that occasion, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade, Mr Francisco Rivadeneira, who was accompanying Mr Albuja, was received by the Minister of Foreign Trade, Ms Nicole Bricq.
  • Visit to Quito by Ms Christiane Taubira, Keeper of the Seals, Minister of Justice, on 27-29November2012, for the Meeting of Ministers of Justice of the Americas, organized by the Organization of American States (OAS). This visit was also an opportunity for working meetings with the Judicial Council and the Constitutional Court, which confirmed Ecuador’s interest in strengthening bilateral cooperation, particularly in the area of training judges.
  • Visit to Ecuador by Ms Nicole Bricq, Minister of Foreign Trade, on 4-5December2012. This visit was an opportunity to sign a financial protocol on the Cuenca tramway project and to highlight how French companies could contribute to the construction of the Quito metro. It was an opportunity for the Ecuadorian authorities to confirm that they had no intention of terminating the investment protection agreement (IPA) with France.In 2014, the France-Ecuador friendship group of the French National Assembly travelled to Ecuador in September, and the Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad travelled to Quito in December with a business delegation. In November2015, Jean-Pierre Bel, Personal Envoy of the President of the French Republic for Latin America and the Caribbean, made a visit to meet with the Ecuadorian authorities. MrGuillaume Long, who was then the Ecuadorian Minister of Culture and responsible for international relations, visited France in February2016 to open a major exhibition of pre-Colombian Ecuadorian art at the Quai Branly Museum.

Economic relations

France plays a relatively small role in the Ecuadorian economy and it continues to run a bilateral trade deficit with the country: in 2015, French exports to Ecuador rose 26.2% to €145million, which was over twice the growth of French exports to South America (+11.8%). French exports to Ecuador have therefore risen by 52.06% over two years, though they have not yet returned to the record level reached in 2012 (€163.6million). French imports from Ecuador, meanwhile, rose 5.5% to €359million, growing faster than total French imports (+0.8%). Ecuador is France’s 75th-largest supplier, ranking one place higher than in 2014, and its 7th-largest Latin American supplier.

As regards investments, with a stock of about US$500million, France has positioned itself as the 3rd-largest European investor over the past 15years. During MrFekl’s visit to Quito in December 2014, it was decided that a French-Ecuadorian working group on trade and investments should be set up. Its first meeting was held in March2015. The main trading prospects in Ecuador are related to transport, water, energy and aeronautics.

About 20French companies have commercial branches or subsidiaries in Ecuador. They include groups such as Alcatel, Hôtel Mercure, Ibis, Schneider, Sanofi Aventis, Coface Rating, Bic, CGG, Pernod Ricard, and more recently Alstom (which opened a regional office). Lafarge, the leading French investor in Ecuador, sold all its assets to the Peruvian company Unacem in May2014. There are currently a number of business opportunities for our companies (tramway, metro and cable-metro, waste processing, plans for new hydroelectric plants). In addition, Veolia took over the water concession in Guayaquil and Banque Lazard played an important role in restructuring Ecuador’s external debt in 2009. In April 2010, EDF signed an agreement with CELEC, the Ecuadorian public electricity company, during a visit to France by the Ecuadorian Minister for Electricity and Renewable Energy, Mr Miguel Calahorrano. More recently, Valhrona (Bongrain group) opened a factory producing luxury chocolates in July2014; in June2014, Accor group signed an agreement to build 10Ibis hotels. The AFD has been authorized to work in Ecuador since autumn 2014. An initial loan of US$100million was granted in 2015 as part of a US$600million project (financing from the Development Bank of Latin America [CAF] and the Inter-American Development Bank [IDB]) to modernize the power grid, increasing the voltage from 110V to 220V. Schneider Electrique is one of the contractors. A second loan of US$100million was then granted to improve municipal water and sanitation services. (the economic service in Colombia is also competent for Ecuador)

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

France continues to hold great cultural prestige in Ecuador, where the work of Charles-Marie de la Condamine, who in the 18th century chose the Quito region to measure the length of one degree latitude at the equator, is still remembered. The role played by the ideals of the French Revolution in the emancipation process of Latin America also contributes to the close relationship between the two countries. French is still spoken by the political and intellectual elite. All Ecuadorian civil law is based on the Napoleonic Code.

We enjoy strong cultural, scientific and technical relations: the prestige of the La Condamine French lycée in Quito, which was created in 1967 and had an enrolment of 1,283 in 2013, and the Cuenca school with 109 students; the dynamism of the five Alliance française branches and their 4,450 students; and the growth of French teaching, with 8,200pupils learning French in the Ecuadorian public education system.

In 2013-2014, 450 Ecuadorian students were studying at French universities and about 40 at grandes écoles. France ranks 7th in terms of hosting Ecuadorian students. Over more than a decade, this mobility has greatly increased, from 182 students in 2000, to 285 in 2006 and over 400 today.

The Institute of Research for Development (IRD) has 16 researchers in Quito (research and scientific cooperation work on environment-related themes such as volcanology and climate change). The French Institute for Andean Studies (IFEA), a unit of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) based in Lima, also has an office there which mainly works on archaeology and urban studies. In 2012, the INRIA Foundation, part of the French national institute for computer science and applied mathematics, opened a centre of excellence and innovation. In 2016, the French Embassy launched the third French geodesic mission in Ecuador with a programme of scientific and cultural events.

In the field of culture, a cooperation project has been set up between FEMIS, the French film school, and the film faculty of Guayaquil University of the Arts. A major exhibition on shamanism in Ecuador opened in February2016 at the Quai Branly Museum, followed by a Festival of Ecuador in France in the second half of the year.

An office of the Delegation for International Cooperation of the Ministry of the Interior (the first to be set up in Latin America, in 1976) conducts technical and operational cooperation projects in the fields of justice and policing. Cooperation has also grown in the fields of prison administration and the training of Ecuadorian judges.

Tourism agreements were signed in December 2006 and 2012. Within this framework, the two countries cooperate more specifically in the areas of adventure and mountain sports, which are becoming increasingly popular in Ecuador.

Updated: 06/05/2016