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Héctor Cueva, Consul-General and Trade Commissioner of Ecuador in Mumbai, keen on creating a symbiotic relationship with India

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Ecuadorian government has decided to strengthen the existing ties with India and establish new relationships in a wide array of domains between the two countries.

Why did the Ecuadorian government decide to open a Consulate in Mumbai?

India is a major player in the international arena and the Ecuadorian government has acknowledged and embraced this fact and therefore decided to strengthen the existing ties and establish new relationships -in a wide array of domains- between the two countries. Given that we will be mostly concentrating on promoting Ecuador’s exports to India, promoting tourism to Ecuador and attracting Indian investment into Ecuador, Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, was selected as our base of operations. Despite the geographical, linguistic and cultural barriers that separate India and Ecuador, the Ecuadorian government believes that there is enormous potential to create real and sustainable schemes of cooperation. The motto of this Consulate and Trade Office is to take the best of India to Ecuador and offer India the very best of our country.

Please brief us about the Virtual Consulate system.

A Virtual Consulate is a tool that allows Ecuadorian citizens living abroad and also foreigners to access certain services on the Internet, which means that they do not have to go to a consular office. Most of the services provided by a consular office are now online. This system saves time; the services provided are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. The system was designed to simplify the procedures required to obtain documents and to optimize the use of resources.

In terms of trade and investment what has been your experience so far in India?

Despite the fact that we inaugurated this Consulate and Trade Office only a year back, we are already witnessing the results of our work. For instance, we have made significant progress with pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, and food companies, among others.  Last year, in December, the Vice president of Ecuador, Jorge Glas, came to India to participate in the Fifth CII India-Latin America and Caribbean Conclave. During his visit to India he also came to Mumbai, where he held meetings with the heads and representatives of leading Indian companies across various industries.

Furthermore, the Ecuadorian Deputy Foreign Minister, Leonardo Arízaga, came to New Delhi recently; during his visit he held meetings with authorities of the Indian government and various entrepreneurs in which he presented and discussed Ecuador’s strategic projects and the achievements of Ecuador’s political project. Our President, Rafael Correa, is planning to come to India in 2015. These frequent visits demonstrate our serious commitment to strengthening the relationship between India an Ecuador, especially through trade and investment; we are exploring all the options available and we are working on the creation of new opportunities. Despite this promising scenario there’s no doubt that we are still in the process of learning about India, about its market and business culture, and hence there are many challenges and difficulties that we have to overcome.

What are the core ideas of Ecuador’s political project?

Ecuador has changed dramatically in the last 6 years. Between 2007 and 2013 Ecuador’s economy grew at 4.3 percent and the unemployment rate was 4.15 percent. Furthermore, there has been an effective and efficient public spending on education, healthcare and infrastructure; all this has drastically improved the quality of life of Ecuador’s inhabitants. Ecuador’s performance in terms of human development has been remarkable. This process of radical change in Ecuador has been called the citizen revolution, and its main objective, duty and challenge is the pursuit of people’s happiness. The philosophy behind this project is “el Buen Vivir” that in English can be translated as “good living”. The core concepts of this philosophy are collective development, harmony between human beings, and also between human beings and nature and respect for ethnic-cultural diversity.

A couple of years back, , an internationally renowned Indian economist, wrote an analysis on the current economic and political situation in Ecuador, in which she describes our country’s new paradigm of development as an example and inspiration for other nations.
How can the relationship with India contribute to the achievement of “good living” in Ecuador?

The Ecuadorian Government has established objectives, policies and guidelines in order to ensure the attainment of the “good living”. The roadmap to attain this ultimate goal is the National Plan for Good Living. One of the objectives of this plan mentions the need for strengthening the South-South cooperation in order to transform the productive structure of our country. This is why we are here in India. Furthermore, we want to establish a partnership that goes beyond the exchange of goods; our aim is to build a partnership in which we can learn from each other and create a symbiotic relationship between the two countries.

Since you will be focusing in promoting Ecuador’s exports to India, what are the key products according to you that have potential in the Indian market?

We are currently doing market research on different products that we would like to bring to India. So far we have identified certain products that could have good market potential in India and these are Processed Coffee, Chocolate, Canned Products, Fresh Roses, Immortalized Roses, Teak Wood, and Snacks.

You mentioned that one of the goals of the Consulate and Trade Office is to promote tourism to Ecuador. Taking into account the large distance between India and Ecuador, how are you going about this objective?

Indeed, the distance between Ecuador and India is a challenge but it is not an insurmountable obstacle. Currently, we are conducting research on the trends and preferences of Indian outbound travelers; once we obtain the results of our analysis we will decide on the to follow in order to increase the number of Indian tourists that travel to Ecuador. Also, in the coming months, we are planning to participate in a travel and tourism fair.

It’s noteworthy to mention that a couple of weeks back The Economic Times published an article according to which the Galapagos Islands are the number one tourist destination to explore.

Also, Ecuador was recently granted the title of South America’s Leading Green Destination, and Quito, Ecuador’s capital, was awarded the title of South America’s Leading Destination. The prestigious World Travel Awards granted these prizes.

Furthermore, we are working on the establishment of alliances with other South American countries in order to bolster our touristic potential. For instance, we are discussing the possibility of creating touristic packages that combine Quito, Galápagos and Machu Picchu. This means that the Indian tourist can visit three destinations that offer a diverse variety of attractions plus he or she will have the chance to visit three World Heritage Sites, all of which will be in one go. We are certain that Indian tourists will be eager to discover the wonders that Ecuador offers.

A final message to the Latino community in India, specially the Ecuadorian community.

To all the Ecuadorian citizens that reside in India, I would like to tell them that the Consulate is always at their service. Also, I would like to urge all the members of the Ecuadorian community in India to communicate with us at of Ecuador in New Delhi or the Consulate of Ecuador in Mumbai. We would like them to participate in the events that we organize and get involved in all the projects that we are developing. The support of the Ecuadorian community is vital for the success of our mission.

So far, we have identified certain products that could have good market potential in India and these are Processed Coffee, Chocolate, Canned Products, Fresh Roses, Immortalized Roses, Teak Wood, and Snacks