Last updated inSeptember 2013
Political relations between Ecuador and Germany have traditionally been friendly. The main issues addressed during bilateral visits were economic relations, development cooperation, environmental policy and drug control. State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development Rainer Bomba was in Ecuador for political talks in summer 2012. In early September 2012, Cardinal Marx of Munich paid a visit to mark the 50th anniversary of relations between the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising and the Catholic Church in Ecuador.
State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development Hans-Jürgen Beerfeltz visited Ecuador in February 2013 accompanied by a 19-member delegation.In March 2013, an 11-member German Bundestag delegation attended the 128th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Quito.
German Bundestag member and Deputy Chairman of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group Christian Ruck (CSU) and Bundestag and Budget Committee member Volkmar Klein (CDU) visited Ecuador in April 2013.
Ecuador’s President Correa visited Germany from 14 to 18 April 2013 accompanied by a delegation. He held talks with a number of high-ranking officials including Federal President Gauck, Federal Chancellor Merkel and Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle.
State Secretary Rainer Bomba was in Ecuador from 30 June to 3 July 2013 accompanied by a large business delegation. During this visit, on 1 July 2013, a declaration of intent on cooperation between Germany and Ecuador in the transport, urban development and housing sectors was signed.
Bilateral relations focus on development cooperation (in October 2012 intergovernmental negotiations on cooperation were held in Quito) and cultural relations (including the three German Schools). The 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, in which Ecuador and Germany played in the same group, continues to provide a point of contact even today.
Germany is one of Ecuador’s principal trading partners in the EU. Ecuador’s main exports to Germany are tropical fruits, coffee, fish, shrimp, seafood and cocoa. Ecuador imports from Germany mining, construction and construction material equipment, machinery, chemical and pharmaceutical products, medical equipment and metal goods.
German trade figures for 2012 show a balance of trade surplus in Ecuador’s favour, Ecuadorian exports to Germany amounting to approximately EUR 509 million and German exports to Ecuador approximately EUR 474 million. Bilateral trade continues to trend upwards. In 2012, it grew by 6.78 per cent compared with the previous year, from approximately EUR 921.4 million to EUR 983.89 million.
According to Ecuadorian figures, Ecuador records a balance of trade deficit with Germany. The differences in these figures can be explained by the so-called Rotterdam effect, according to which Ecuadorian exports to Germany via ports in the Netherlands are frequently recorded as exports to the Netherlands in the countries of origin.
According to Central Bank of Ecuador figures, imports from Germany (measured on an F.O.B. basis) rose from USD 451.7 million in 2010 to USD 539.4 million in 2011. In 2012, they stood at USD 563.9 million, 4.54 per cent more than in the previous year. Ecuador’s exports to Germany shrank by approximately 23.35 per cent, from USD 492.6 million in 2011 to approximately USD 377.6 million in 2012, Ecuador thus recording a balance of trade deficit with Germany again in 2012.
Among EU countries, Germany is the second largest supplier of Ecuadorian imports after Spain, while Italy is generally – and Spain occasionally – ahead of Germany as a buyer of Ecuador’s exports.
Ecuadorian companies are frequently represented at trade fairs in Germany but the country’s general – and economic – presence in the EU is very limited. German companies are at present rarely represented at trade shows in Ecuador, though their sales are trending upwards. However, growth rates have been fairly constant for years, below those for Ecuadorian imports as a whole. Nevertheless, the visit to Berlin by Ecuadorian President Correa from 15 to 18 April 2013 underlines the growing interest in further developing bilateral economic relations and stepping up cooperation in science and technology. Correa, who was accompanied by a 40-member business delegation, was following an invitation to the 13th Latin America Conference of German Business, at which he was the keynote speaker.
German businesses operating in Ecuador are mainly involved in commerce. Since 1978, Quito has been home to a German-Ecuadorian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, which also has a liaison office in Guayaquil. To promote exports to Europe, Ecuador opened a Consulate General in Hamburg in 1993.An investment promotion and protection agreement dates from 1965 (renewed in 1996) and a double taxation agreement from 1986 (negotiations on a revised version of the agreement were concluded in Berlin in October 2012). On 14 September 2010, Ecuador’s parliament approved a government motion to terminate the 1996 investment promotion and protection agreement because of its incompatibility with the country’s new constitution. Termination of the agreement has yet to be implemented, however.
Germany is one of the largest bilateral donors in development cooperation with Ecuador. The most recent bilateral intergovernmental negotiations on development cooperation were held in Quito in October 2012. At these, a total of EUR 60.9 million was pledged for the priority areas environmental policy, the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, state modernisation, decentralisation and the strengthening of autonomous local government.
The main intermediaries in cultural exchange between Germany and Ecuador are the Humboldt Society/Goethe Centre in Quito, the German-Ecuadorian Cultural Centre in Guayaquil, the German Schools in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca and, since 2008, two partner schools in the Quito metropolitan area. The German cultural association Red Cultural Alemana coordinates the activities of all German institutions engaged in the cultural sector in Ecuador. Working together with the German Embassy, it organises an extensive, wide-ranging cultural programme.
Cooperation at university level is promoted primarily through short-term research scholarships, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) student scholarships and lecturer exchange programmes. For years, a DAAD teacher has been working at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador (PUCE) in Quito. There has been a gratifying increase in the number of active university partnerships and student exchanges. Cooperation focuses on scientific and engineering subjects. The German Research Foundation (DFG) is conducting a mountain rainforest research project in the Loja province. The project area has been extended to include mountain forests.
To strengthen cooperation in higher education, during President Correa’s visit to Germany in April 2013 an agreement to step up cooperation between the Technische Universität Berlin and the National Secretariat for Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (SENESCYT) was signed.