Ecuador has reached a trade agreement with the European Union (EU) on the protection of the country's vulnerable industrial sectors, the country's Foreign Trade Ministry announced Thursday.
Ecuador's Foreign Trade Minister Francisco Rivadeneira met in Brussels, Belgium, with the European Commissioner for Trade Karel de Gucht "to finalize the negotiations of the Multiparty Trade Agreement at the highest level," the ministry said in a statement.
"After almost four years of work, today we have finally concluded a balanced agreement with the European Union that makes the most of opportunities, reduces to a minimum the costs, respects the country's development model and allows us to protect our vulnerable sectors," Rivadeneira said.
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa had wanted the deal to be concluded before the end of the year, since the country's preferential SGP Plus tariff status with the EU is set to expire in December.
The SGP Plus exempts Ecuadorian goods, mainly agricultural and fishing products, from paying import duties in the bloc's 28 member countries
The EU is the main market for non-oil exports from Ecuador, which enjoys a trade surplus with the bloc.
According to official data, the EU imports 30 percent of non- oil goods such as bananas, tuna, coffee, shrimp, oils, cocoa, flowers, fruit juices and wood.
The deal immediately allows all Ecuadorian export goods access to the EU market, and its 500 million consumers, Ecuadorian officials said.