By H.E. Mr Andrés Terán Parral, Ambassador of the Republic of Ecuador to the Kingdom of The Netherlands.
In 2018, the decision was made to reopen the Embassy of the Republic of Ecuador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It marked the beginning of a significant effort to revitalize and expand the political, diplomatic, and economic relations that exist between Ecuador and the Netherlands, as well as deepen our country’s engagement with the various international organizations situated in The Hague. Shortly thereafter, another incredibly significant moment occurred: the first official visit to the Netherlands by a President of the Republic of Ecuador in over 25 years.
In July 2019, H.E. Lenin Moreno, President of the Republic of Ecuador, met with H.M. King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, as part of a mission to promote new investment in Ecuador and activate commercial opportunities to further open the European market to Ecuadorian products. H.E. José Valencia, then Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, and H.E. Stef Blok, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, likewise met at the margins of this presidential visit, holding discussion on, inter alia, the advancement of negotiations to conclude a bilateral investment treaty.
Taken collectively, these moments represent an important tour de force for the revitalization and enhancement of relations between Ecuador and the Netherlands, building on over 150 years of friendship and cooperation between our nations. Yet, this only represent the beginning of our mission to further strengthen and connect our countries. Presently, our new agenda can be divided into four key areas of engagement: commerce, cooperation, tourism, and multilateralism.
As concerns commerce, it should come as no surprise that the Dutch market presents itself as a vast source of opportunity for Ecuadorian products. Importantly, the Netherlands is one of our main European destinations for shrimp, cacao and cacao beans, fresh cut flowers, bananas and other tropical fruits. It is worth mentioning that Ecuador´s world famous rose industry was developed with technology brought by the Dutch nearly 40 years ago, truly representing the unique and important bond shared by our countries. Fresh cut roses represent 880 million dollars in exports each year, primarily through Schiphol Amsterdam Airport.
On the other hand, Ecuador presents itself as an exceptionally fruitful prospect for investment for the Netherlands, primarily due to the vast natural resources found in our country. The Netherlands is the second largest Foreign Direct Investor in Ecuador, having invested $ 857 million dollars between 2008 and 2017. In 2018 alone, a total of $162.3 million dollars was invested in the areas of mining (40%), agribusiness, food and beverages (33%), energy and gas (14%) and services (13%).
Additionally, the role of the European Union is of equal importance to Ecuador, which is why a Trade Agreement was concluded in 2017 for the purpose of enabling Ecuadorian products to be traded more equally in the European market, and for European consumers to be able to access exceptionally high quality products produced in Ecuador. It is worth mentioning that Ecuador is the largest supplier of tuna and shrimp to the Union.
With regards to cooperation, Ecuador is primarily focused on consolidating mutual assistance with the Authorities of the Netherlands in terms of customs, cybersecurity and police matters, particularly in the fight against transnational organized crime and drug trafficking. Ecuadorian authorities work closely and diligently with their counterparts in the Netherlands to safeguard our societies from these modern threats. In this sense, the port of Rotterdam, being the main port of entry for almost all Ecuadorian exports to the European market, represents a strategic zone for our Authorities. With its cutting-edge technology and facilities dedicated to the handling of international cargo, Rotterdam is key area of cooperation for Ecuador. Likewise, certain Ecuadorian exports reach the Netherlands through Schiphol Amsterdam Airport, a port of entry that has an infrastructure that enables rapid coordination with logistics services for the distribution of our products across the European market and the world.
As concerns tourism, we strive to make Ecuador a main destination for Dutch tourists so that they may be able to visit the famed country of the “Four Worlds”.
A name earned because of the four different regions and climates which exist within our borders. This reality is accompanied by a unique culture and biodiversity. The “Four Worlds” are composed of: the Coastal region, home to endless kilometres of sun-drenched beaches and untouched natural wonders; the Andes Region, where ancient mountains and snow-covered volcanoes create an eternal spring during the day, while providing the perfect cold at night; the Amazon region, where pure and untouched jungle composed of exceptional and endemic flora and fauna exist; and finally the Insular region which is home to a cradle of endemic and unique species, the Galapagos Islands.
Particularly, the Galapagos Islands are known worldwide as “the Natural Laboratory of the Planet”, being the famed inspiration for the theory of evolution as described in ¨On the Origin of Species¨, one of the most important works of 19th century naturalist Charles Darwin. On these incredible islands you will be able to see nature undisturbed: giant tortoises, sea lions, penguins, and blue-footed boobies all coexisting in a special ecosystem unlike any other on Earth. A recent documentary titled “Galapagos: Hope for the Future”, directed by Evert Van den Bos, distinguished Dutch producer and director, was screened simultaneously in 2019 in Ecuador and the Netherlands, for the purpose of bringing more attention to the special nature of these islands.
The final area of engagement is multilateralism. The Netherlands and Ecuador coincide on a common vision of the international order based on principles and values, the rule of law and a strong support for cooperation and diplomacy. As a result, our countries have a shared position on issues concerning human rights, gender equality, democracy and governance, as well as concerns the role of international institutions such as the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, and the Organization for the Prohibition for Chemical Weapons. We work closely to create a better world for all nations and peoples.
This is all to say that Ecuador strives to work on strengthening and enhancing our dynamic relationship with the Netherlands, while focusing on working together for a better world, based on the rule of law and the values and principles of democracy, multilateralism, freedom and economic prosperity. It is my sincere view that in order to achieve these objectives, we must develop and enhance our engagement, facilitate understanding among our countries and building capacity in the aforementioned areas. It is our great privilege at the Embassy of the Republic of Ecuador, to continue working on these objectives.