France and Ecuador

Political relations

President Correa made an official visit to Paris and Lyon on 6-8 November 2013. 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.

Several high-level meetings have taken place in the last six years:

  • 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 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 November 2015, Mr 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. Mr Guillaume Long, who was then the Ecuadorian Minister of Culture and responsible for international relations, visited France in February 2016 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 €145 million, which was over twice the growth of French exports to Latin 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 (€163.6 million). French imports from Ecuador, meanwhile, rose 5.5% to €359 million, 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 in Latin America.

As regards investments, with a stock of about US $500 million, France has positioned itself as the third-largest European investor over the past 15 years. During Mr 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 held in March 2015. The main trading prospects in Ecuador are related to transport, water, energy and aeronautics.

Nineteen French 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 Alstom. Lafarge, the leading French investor in Ecuador, sold all its assets to the Peruvian company Unacem in May 2014. Meanwhile, Veolia has taken 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. That same year, Lactalis acquired two plants for production of dairy products. 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 Agence Française de Développement (AFD, French Development Agency) has been authorized to operated in Ecuador since autumn 2014, and six loans have been granted since 2015. JC Decaux was awarded the advertising bus shelter contract of the city of Guayaquil on 22 May 2017 following an international call for tenders.

For more information visit: http://www.tresor.economie.gouv.fr/Pays/equateur
(The economic mission 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, academic 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 1,408 in 2015-2016, and the Cuenca school with 175 students; the dynamism of the 5 Alliances Française branches and their 6000 students in 2014; and the growth of French teaching: 8,200 students are learning French in the Ecuadorian State system.

In 2014-2015, 530 Ecuadorian students were studying at French universities and about 40 at grandes écoles. France ranks fifth 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. A new Ecuadorian Ministry of Higher Education, entitled SENECYTE, has recently been launched in partnership with the Quito Alliance Française branch. It seeks to prepare high-achieving Ecuadorian high school students hoping to pursue studies in French scientific programmes.

The Institute of Research for Development (IRD) is involved in research and scientific cooperation work on environment-related themes such as volcanology and climate change. 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 February 2016 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: 6 June 2017

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