Trade and Investment
Historical links go back to the first attempt to gain independence from the Spanish in Quito on 10 August 1809 chronicled by William Bennet Stevenson, an Englishman acting as Secretary to Count Ruiz de Castilla, the leader of the Revolt.
Ivonne Baki, Ecuadorean Minister for External Trade, visited from 10-11 April 2003. Elsa de Mena, the former Head of Ecuador’s Inland Revenue, visited the UK in February 2002.
Bilateral relationships are good, supported by a visits programme involving senior political figures: The British Embassy sponsored visits by two members of the House of Lords, Lord Brennan, QC and Baroness Hooper, in 2005. Lord Stone of Blackheath attended President Gutierréz’s inauguration in January 2003. The FCO’s Permanent Under-Secretary visited in January 2001.
Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visited Ecuador in March 2009 in part to celebrate the anniversaries surrounding Charles Darwin. They visited Quito where the Vice President received them, and the Galapagos Islands where they saw firsthand the efforts being made to preserve the unique biodiversity of the islands.
President Correa made an academic visit to the UK in October 2009 and gave speeches at the Oxford Union, Chatham House and the London School of Economics.
He also visited the House of Lords and had a meeting with the Speaker, Baroness Hyman.
Jeremy Browne visited Ecuador in July 2011 and launched the one year to go for the 2012 London Olympics.
British Embassy, Quito
Ecuadorian Representation in the UK
Bilaterally, we have provided assistance worth over £2.4 million over the period 2000 - 2007, covering human rights, environmental protection (including assistance to the oil spill from the ship 'Jessica' in January 2001), street children, women and good governance issues. The UK provides about 18% of the European Commission's spending in Ecuador. Over the period 2007 - 2010, the EU's budgeted aid will amount to some £47 million, which will be distributed among the areas of education and support to small and medium enterprises. The EU granted emergency aid to Ecuador of about £600,000 for people living in the coastal areas struck by floods following persistent rains in 2006. The aid was used to fund operations to re-establish drinking water supplies and to help restore families to a minimum level of self-sufficiency. Other emergency aid programme that has taken place in Ecuador falls under DIPECHO, a fund that finances disaster planning in Latin America. In 2003 Ecuador received about £900,000 from this programme, and in 2005 again received a similar figure for the same purpose.
Our main exports to Ecuador are pharmaceuticals, transport equipment, chemical materials/products, and beverages (mainly whisky). The Anglo-Ecuadorian Chamber of Commerce, which has branches in Quito, and Guayaquil, also actively promotes links between Britain and Ecuador. Their work is supported by the British Embassy Commercial Section. In 2009, UK exports to Ecuador totalled £54 million and imports amounted to £85 million (mainly shrimp and tropical fruits). A Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) was signed in 1994. President Correa has said that he wants agreements such as this to be renegotiated. A few UK companies, including Unilever and Lloyds TSB, are still active in Ecuador. Lloyds TSB Bank is one of just two international banks in the market.
The British Embassy is responsible for the administration of scholarship schemes and the provision of information about Britain. There is no formal cultural programme.
Ecuador is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world. But destruction of natural ecosystems is threatening this biodiversity. According to USAID Ecuador is approaching the highest deforestation rate in South America. The Galapagos Islands and surrounding waters are both World Heritage Sites and have been recognised as of vital ecological importance from a conservation point of view. In June 2007 UNESCO included the Galapagos in the list of World Heritage Sites at risk and the government has undertaken to address problems caused by immigration, excess fishing, increased tourism and invasive species. Podacarpuas and Yasuni are also important bio-diversity areas. The government is promoting an initiative to conserve the environment by voluntarily desisting from exploiting recently discovered oil fields in Yasuní National Park (ITT) in exchange for international financial compensation of US$350 million each year. So far, several European countries and the UN have expressed interest in the initiative. Recognising that further global climate change could seriously affect the country, Ecuador has been a key supporter of the Kyoto Protocol and other environmental forums. There has been investment in mangrove restoration in the shrimp sector and the government is making efforts to protect primary forest. Nevertheless, the government recognises that there is still much progress to be made, particularly on forest management. In July 2007, the President signed a controversial decree legalising incidental shark fishing, which has generated criticism particularly from environmentalists. Shark finning (removing the fin and disposing with the carcass) is still illegal but continues because of weak enforcement. The practice has proved harmful to the marine ecosystem in the Galapagos and mainland coastal waters. The UK’s environmental objective in Ecuador is to support efforts at a local level to tackle global environmental problems. In 2005 the UK financed two projects worth over £300,000 under the Darwin Initiative (www.darwin.gov.uk) to protect the Galapagos coral reefs and associated biodiversity, and to develop a sustainable conservation network for primates in the north west of Ecuador. Two further Darwin Initiative projects worth £360,000 started in 2006 and 2007. One will contribute to the conservation of the critically endangered Mangrove Finch on the Galapagos Islands. The other will create an orchid seed bank and establish Ecuador as a regional centre for scientific research and training. The Embassy in Quito has supported various environmental education projects in communities that are located in sensitive areas in Ecuador. In 2005, through the Global Opportunities Fund, we also supported three projects aimed at promoting public participation and access to information on environmental issues. One of these projects resulted in the President approving in 2006 the Regulation for Public Participation and Previous Consultation legislation on environmental matters.
Ecuador is a signatory of the 6 major Human Rights instruments, has a National Human Rights Plan and a Constitution that is one of the most advanced in terms of human rights principles in Latin America. Ecuador's Human Rights record does not attract regular criticism from Human Rights organisations. Amnesty International has in the past urged the Ecuadorean Government to show its commitment in practice to the respect of human rights, and has called upon the authorities to carry out independent and impartial investigations to bring perpetrators of human rights abuse to justice. Murder rates in Quito and Guayaquil have risen in recent years and kidnappings have also increased. The UK has funded a number projects on human rights such as promoting the National Human Rights Plan in Ecuador's regions, training youth promoters of human rights, support for the victims of domestic and sexual violence and a training programme for journalists reporting on corruption cases. Most recently, with funding from the Global Conflict Prevention Fund, we supported a project aimed at raising awareness amongst stakeholders on the border with Colombia on refugee's rights, women's rights, conflict resolution and conflict management. The UK has also funded a number of projects related to prison reform. Financed by DFID’s Civil Society Challenge Fund, a 3-year project worth £273,000 began in 2007. The project focuses on the rights of children from impoverished areas of Guayaquil to access and complete primary education.
*The Galapagos Islands, famous for their connection with Charles Darwin and his work on the “Origin of the Species” are part of Ecuador.
*Yasuni National Park, located in Ecuador's Amazon region, is the most biologically diverse forest on the planet. UNESCO named Yasuni a biosphere reserve in 1989. A small part of the park, known as Ishpingo-Tiputini-Tambococha (ITT), is home to at least two indignenous tribes, the Tagaeri and Taromenane, who maintain their traditional lifestyles in voluntary isolation. ITT also contains nearly a billion barrels of oil. The Ecuadorian government has proposed that the international community compensate the Ecuadorians for keeping this oil in the ground, thereby protecting the uniqueness of its biodiversity and contributing to global initiatives to protect the environment.
*The Indian market at Otavalo is one of the most famous in South America
*The highest mountain on the Equator is Cayambe at 5,790 metres
*The capital Quito was once the centre of the Inca Empire
*Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador at 6,310m is the furthest point from the centre of the earth
*Ecuador, although the same size as the UK, is a hugely diverse country and home to five different climatic zones.
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Source:Foreign & Commonwealth Office