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France and Ecuador

Presentation

Political relations

President Correa made an official visit to Paris and Lyon on 6-8 November 2013. His meeting with President Hollande led to a joint declaration 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 26 October, under the Presidency of the Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, 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 for Foreign Trade, Ms Nicole Bricq.
  • Visit to Quito by Ms Christiane Taubira, Keeper of the Seals, Minister of Justice, on 27-29 November 2012, 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 4-5 December 2012. This visit enabled a financial protocol to be signed within the framework of the Cuenca tramway project and the expertise of French companies to be promoted with a view to building 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 September 2014, the France-Ecuador friendship group travelled to Ecuador, 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.

Economic relations

France’s contribution to the Ecuadorian economy remains quite modest and the bilateral trade balance remains in favour of Ecuador: in 2014, our trade reached €455 million, with French exports reaching €115 million. As regards investments, with a stock of about US$500 million, France has positioned itself as the 3rd largest European investor in the past 15 years. On the occasion of M. Fekl’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 in March 2015. The main trading prospects in Ecuador are related to transport, water, energy and aeronautics.

About 20 French companies are set up in Ecuador through commercial branches or subsidiaries. They include 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 May 2014. There are currently business opportunities for our companies (tramway, metro and cable-metro, waste processing, projects for new hydroelectric plants). Moreover, 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, on the occasion of 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 July 2014; in June 2014, Accor group signed an agreement to build 10 Ibis hotels. The AFD has been authorized to work in Ecuador since autumn 2014. The first loan of US$100 million was signed in 2015 as part of an overall US$600 million project (financing from the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) + Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)) to upgrade the electricity supply network (which must be increased from 110 V to 220 V). Schneider Electrique is one of the beneficiaries of this market.

- http://www.tresor.economie.gouv.fr/Pays/equateur (in French)

The economic mission in Colombia is also competent for Ecuador

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

France’s cultural prestige remains important 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 a 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 (secondary school) 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 5 Alliances françaises and their 4,450 students; the growth of French teaching: 8,200 students learning French in the Ecuadorian public system; an interesting initiative by the University of Technology of Compiègne which in 2013 put in place a core curriculum in engineering within the French lycée in Viña del Mar.

In 2013-2014, 450 Ecuadorian students were included in French universities and about 40 in grandes écoles. France ranks 7th in terms of hosting Ecuadorian students. This mobility has greatly increased in more than ten years: 182 students in 2000, 285 in 2006, over 400 today.

The Institute of Research for Development (IRD) has 16 researchers in Quito (research and scientific cooperation work on environment-related themes: volcanology, 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 (French National Institute for computer science and applied mathematics) opened a centre of excellence and innovation.

An office of the Ministry of the Interior’s Delegation for International cooperation (created in 1976, it is the oldest in Latin America) conducts technical and operational cooperation actions on justice and policing. Cooperation has also grown in the areas of prison administration and the training of Ecuadorian judges.

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

Updated: 25/11/2015

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