Last updated in March 2015
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.
Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa visited Germany in April 2013 accompanied by a delegation. He held talks with Federal President Joachim Gauck, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and then Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, among others.
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 visit to Ecuador by a delegation of the Bundestag’s Committee on the Environment Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, which was scheduled for December 2014, was 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.
Since the commencement in late 2013 of negotiations between Ecuador and the European Union on a trade agreement (initialled in July 2014) and the Ecuadorian government’s decision to introduce the German dual vocational training model, bilateral economic relations have gained fresh momentum.
Within the EU, Germany is one of Ecuador’s principal trading partners and the most important exporter of goods to Ecuador. According to figures published by Ecuador’s National Institute of Statistics and Census, trade between Germany and Ecuador was worth USD 1.182 billion in 2013, compared with USD 1.29 billion in 2012. Germany recorded a deficit in trade with Ecuador in 2013, with German exports to Ecuador worth USD 552 million and German imports from Ecuador USD 630 million.
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.
Ecuador’s government has decided to introduce the German vocational training model throughout the country. There are already cooperation arrangements with a number of German companies that want to help train skilled workers locally.
Germany has hitherto been one of the largest bilateral donors of 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.
The special programme for the preservation and sustainable development of the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve in eastern Amazonia is designed to support biodiversity, protect the forest and promote indigenous peoples in the region.
In December 2014, however, the Ecuadorian government unilaterally terminated environmental cooperation with Germany.
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. 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. 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.