Last updated in March 2016
Political relations between Ecuador and Germany go back a long way. The main issues addressed during recent bilateral visits in both directions were economic relations, development cooperation, environmental policy and drug control.
In June 2015, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa met with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of the EU-CELAC summit in Brussels. Ecuador held the Presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) from the end of January 2015 to the end of January 2016.
At parliamentary level, a seven-member German-Ecuadorian Parliamentary Friendship Group was constituted in the Ecuadorian parliament (Asamblea Nacional) in spring 2014, headed by the MP Carlos Bergmann of the governing Alianza País. In October 2014, it met in Quito with a delegation of the German Bundestag’s Parliamentary Friendship Group for Relations with the States of South America. A return visit took place in November 2015. Visits to Ecuador by a delegation of the Bundestag’s Committee on the Environment Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, which were scheduled for December 2014 and March 2016, were cancelled following objections by the Ecuadorian government.
Of Germany’s political foundations, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation currently have offices in Ecuador.
Within the EU, Germany is one of Ecuador’s principal trading partners and the most important exporter of goods to Ecuador. According to Federal Statistical Office figures, in 2015 German exports to Ecuador were worth EUR 417 million and German imports from Ecuador EUR 500 million. This means that 4.71 per cent of Ecuador’s total exports went Germany in 2015 and Ecuador accounted for 0.5 per cent of German imports.
Germany’s main exports to Ecuador are machinery, pharmaceutical products and medical equipment. Its principal imports from Ecuador are tropical fruits (accounting for more than 50 per cent of total imports), fish, seafood, coffee and cocoa. Ecuador is Germany’s biggest supplier of bananas.
Since 1978, Quito has been home to a German-Ecuadorian Chamber of Industry and Commerce, which also has a liaison office in Guayaquil. Ecuador operates an Institute of Export and Investment Promotion (ProEcuador), and since 1993 a Consulate General, in Hamburg. An investment promotion and protection agreement has been in place since 1965 (renewed in 1996) and a double taxation agreement (which is currently being renegotiated) since 1986.
Ecuadorian companies are frequently represented at trade fairs in Germany, e.g. at the International Tourism Exchange (ITB), but the country’s general – and economic – presence is limited. The April 2013 visit to Berlin by Ecuadorian President Correa, who was accompanied by a business delegation, underlines the growing interest in further developing bilateral economic relations. The initialling of a trade agreement with the EU in July 2014 will give further impetus to economic relations. The agreement is expected to be ratified and enter into force by the end of 2016.
Ecuador’s government has decided to introduce the German vocational training model throughout the country. Forty vocational training centres are to be set up by 2018, and nine of them are to be opened in 2016. The required training courses have already been approved for 30 professions, and 18 more are to follow by the end of 2016. There are already cooperation arrangements with a number of German companies that want to help train skilled workers locally.
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 November 2014. At these, the following priority areas of German-Ecuadorian cooperation were agreed upon: Protection of the Environment and Natural Resources and Public Administration/Economic Reform.
After Ecuador unilaterally terminated environmental cooperation with Germany in December 2014, the two governments agreed in September 2015 to continue projects to protect the environment and conserve natural resources in the Amazon region. This includes providing support for forest monitoring and management of the national protected areas. Incentives are being created to encourage the local population to engage in reforestation and the sustainable use of forests – by cultivating cocoa, for instance. The existing German-Ecuadorian special programme to protect biodiversity in the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve and National Park and the indigenous peoples living there will in future have a supraregional orientation.
Culture and education
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 (as part of the PASCH initiative). 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 a 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. The number of active university partnerships is on the increase, as is the number of student exchanges. Cooperation focuses on science and engineering subjects. The German Research Foundation (DFG) is conducting a mountain rainforest research project in the Loja province. Since 2013, the project area has been extended to include high mountain regions and the Azuay Province (Cuenca). Three Ecuadorian and eight German universities are currently involved in the project.