Born in the city of Ambato, Ecuador, Patricio Garcés Ramírez, the Ambassador of Ecuador to India, has a vast experience of handling international affairs. Before joining the Foreign Services of Ecuador, Garcés was a law professional and earned his degrees of Doctor of Law and Practising Lawyer at Courts. He obtained another degree in law from the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador.
It was in 1992, when he passed the exams of Foreign Services of Ecuador and started his career in foreign services at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, that he attended the Diplomatic Academy, Antonio J Quevedo, and obtained the Diploma in International Studies and Diplomatic Training. After this, Patricio Garcés Ramírez has served in various positions abroad.
Recently, the Ambassador organised a networking meeting to promote tourism and trade between India and Ecuador. In an e-mail interaction with Rakesh Kumar, he touched upon a range of issues, including tourism, business and defence ties. Excerpts:
Why have trade relations between India and Ecuador not achieved their full potential?
In order to increase the levels of trade between Ecuador and India, two bilateral agreements have been signed during the last four years: Memorandum of Understanding on Ecuador-India Economic Cooperation, an instrument that seeks to promote trade, investment and cooperation in areas such as infrastructure, energy, transport, biotechnology, contracting and engineering services, mining, technology transfer and diversification of bilateral trade; and Protocol for the Establishment of the Ecuador-India Joint Economic and Trade Committee, whose first meeting took place in May 2017, in which it was agreed to start the process of signing a Trade Agreement that will definitely promote commercial exchange.
Now both countries have started a joint study to adopt a Partial Scope Agreement. The opening of the Indian market has (enabled) export of several Ecuadorian vegetable products (quinoa, pitahaya, teakwood, cocoa beans, processed foods and eternalized roses). Ecuadorian exports to India have grown significantly in these four years (from 59.69 million dollars in 2012-13 to 136.87 million dollars in 2016-17). These figures do not take into account the Ecuadorian sales of crude oil to India.
Can you throw some light on India-Ecuador defence relationship since you had purchased Dhruv helicopters from India?
In matters of defence cooperation, information is exchanged by both sides. For training and perfection programmes, specifically related to Dhruv helicopters, as well as in other areas, high-ranking Ecuadorian officials have attended the courses at the National Defence College in India.
Ecuador is an associate member of Mercosur. How do you look at this trade bloc’s ties with India?
Ecuador is a member of several integration groups in Latin America. It maintains with them an expanded market, free of tariffs on several goods and items, and with preferential rates in others. This is an advantage that can be availed of and enjoyed by Indian companies that decide to invest in Ecuador and establish their distribution centres. They can take advantage of the current integration agreements, such as Mercosur or the Andean Community of Nations.
What is Ecuador’s position on India’s candidacy for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council?
On 5 June, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa was elected as President of the General Assembly of the United Nations 2018-2019. She said what we want to do is contribute to multilateralism and thereby strengthen the functioning of the UN. Ecuador believes that a reform of the Security Council is necessary, a task that not only depends on the President of the assembly, but also on a very complicated governmental negotiation process. Therefore, changes cannot be guaranteed, only if the member states agree to do so. By the way, a great expectation has been generated with this reform process, where the depth and speed will depend on the states that compose it.
People in India are not much aware about the tourism potential of Ecuador. What is being done to promote the country as an attractive destination for Indian tourists?
As statistics show, the number of tourists coming from India is very small ~ 1,882 people in 2015 ~ although the number of tourists that Ecuador receives is quite considerable. In 2017, 1,617,914 tourists arrived in Ecuador. The promotional campaigns have been focused basically on traditional markets, the US, Europe and Japan. But now, we want to include India in this circuit, since a large number of Indian tourists have travelled to traditional destinations and are now in search of new destinations, which fit well with the offer put forth by Ecuador. Now we are interested in promoting Ecuador, for different segments of the Indian population, especially in the segments of adventure destinations, as well as in the honeymoon destination.
Do you have Indians settled in Ecuador? If so, how big is the Indian community there?
The Indian community-based in Ecuador is quite small and does not surpass 400 families. Most of them are dedicated to cultivation and export of teak wood to India. Others are involved in the food industry, which is evident in the appearance of several Indian food eateries and restaurants.