A longstanding foreign service official and formerly Ecuador’s representative at the UN Industrial Development Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Leonardo Arízaga was recently named ambassador to China. Arízaga’s duties will commence in mid-October once he has presented his credentials to President Hu Jintao. He then plans to spend several weeks meeting with the Ecuadorian communities in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, as well as consular and commercial office staff. Arízaga spoke to China Economic Review about the China-Ecuador relationship.
Q: What will be the particular focus of your duties in China?
A: Cooperation for development in its various aspects – finance, commerce, technology transfer, training, and obviously politics.
Q: How strong are commercial and diplomatic relations between the governments of Ecuador and China?
A: The relationship between the two governments has reached a level of unprecedented cooperation and friendship, which is reflected in the frequent exchange of visits between senior national and sectional officials, parliamentarians and academics. It is also recognizable in the substantial increase in investment and financial cooperation from China in developing projects of mutual benefit. There are many similarities in the two countries’ international politics, including support for multilateralism, environmental protection, restructuring the international financial system and cooperation for development. However, for various reasons, the trade balance shows a considerable loss for Ecuador, a problem that will be one of the main subjects of attention during my tenure.
Q: How effectively have relations been maintained?
A: We are strategic and complementary partners, but there is some way to go in developing a relationship based on mutual respect and benefit, and economic, political, social and cultural exchanges.
Q: What projects are planned for the remainder of 2010?
A: Specifically, strengthening trade and promotion. A commercial adviser will be appointed to the embassy and provided with all the necessary resources to build upon the various cooperation agreements signed in 2007 as well as the ones that came out of Foreign Minister Ricardo Pati?o’s first official visit to China in August.
Q: What were the main achievements of the visit?
A: We reconfirmed our mutual interest in promoting friendly relations. Steps were taken to strengthen government and entrepreneurs’ confidence in the legal guarantees and the seriousness with which our government treats Chinese and foreign investment in general. Discussions were also held concerning potential further cooperation in mining, agriculture and technology.