China and Ecuador on Thursday signed a free trade agreement (FTA) to boost bilateral trade and business ties, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
The deal makes Ecuador China's 27th FTA partner. In Latin America, Beijing also has such trading deals with Chile, Peru and Costa Rica.
The deal was inked virtually between Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao and Julio Jose Prado, Ecuador's minister of production, foreign trade, investments and fisheries, after a year of negotiation.
The FTA will help the two sides achieve high-standard mutual opening up, create a better business environment, further tap the potential in trade and investment cooperation, and promote the sustainable, stable and diversified development of bilateral trade, it said.
Once the FTA goes into effect, as much as 90 percent of the goods traded between China and Ecuador will be exempted from tariffs, while 60 percent of them will enjoy zero tariffs immediately, according to the deal.
China and Ecuador will proceed with respective domestic procedures so that the FTA can come into effect at an early date, said the commerce ministry. The two sides will also conduct further negotiations on areas of common interest to seek upgrading of the FTA.
China is Ecuador's second-largest trading partner. In 2022, the two countries witnessed double-digit growth in trade for the second year in a row, with bilateral trade reaching $13.1 billion, up 19.7 percent year on year.