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Ecuador´s major exports and imports-Header.jpg

Ecuador´s major exports and imports

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Updated on 03 Jan 2024
5 min read
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Ecuador is a major trading partner with the United States along with other Central American countries like Peru and Columbia. But Ecuador also does business with other countries like China, Brazil, Chile, Japan, Columbia and Venezuela. This country is the 69th largest economy in the world and occupies the number eight position in terms of economical power in Latin America. Trade accounted for 42% of the country’s GDP in 2017 and the figure has remained nearly consistent in the subsequent two years.

Ecuador´s Main Exports


Bananas make up 10% of Ecuador’s exports. Sourced from the South West end of Ecuador in areas like Machala the country is one of the world’s biggest producer of bananas. From baby banana to green bananas the country exports them all reaching 215 million tons of bananas that they export to countries like China, the United States, the European Union, Russia and Turkey among others.

The production of bananas in Ecuador is limited by the government which restricts farm sizes. The country has an estimated 5,000 growers of the fruit who range from medium sized to small scale farmers. These are organized into 200 exporters and 300 co-operatives for efficiency and also to guarantee that the product meets exportation standards.

Together with Costa Rica, Columbia and Guatemala, Ecuador produces over 100 million of the bananas consumed worldwide


The country exported 371.21 barrels per day by December of 2018 which is a decrease from 2017’s 385 barrels per day in December. The petroleum sector accounts for nearly 50% of Ecuador’s exports earnings and although the country is OPEC’s smallest producer and exporter ofThe petroleum sector accounts for nearly 50% of Ecuador’s exports earnings oil, the country has managed to slightly increase its production of oil since 2009.

The nation is the 5th largest producer of oil in South America and America benefits from importing its crude oil making them Ecuador’s largest crude oil export partner. And with the largest oil reserves in South America after Brazil and Venezuela the country is opting out of OPEC by 2020 to look for better markets than the United States in Asia, specifically in China. By 2011, there were estimated 7.2 million barrels of oil reserves in Ecuador which was an increase from years before.


Ecuador’s market for their chief crustacean export is China whose demand for sea food has doubled since 2005. China is heavily reliant on Ecuadorian shrimp to meet its domestic demand especially since disease nearly depleted their own reserves between 2009 and 2012.

Ecuador has also benefitted from China’s consumption upgrade which has increased demand for better quality shrimp from overseas markets. As a result 61% of Ecuadorian shrimp was sold to the Chinese market in 2018 alone. Because Ecuador lowers the biological risk of disease by raisin 10-15 shrimp per square meter instead of 100 to 150 shrimp, they tend to avoid the use of antibiotics in their shrimp pools resulting in healthier, safer shrimp for the international market. The US, Japan and EU are other main consumers of the Ecuadorian shrimp.

Ecuador´s Main Imports


Ecuador offers tax breaks for countries coming from the European Union market as well as the Columbian market which has seen an increase in the vehicles imported into the country recently. This has impacted their domestic manufacture of vehicles. This move is meant to encourage sales especially coming from the recession the country experienced in 2016.

The most popular brands are the Chevrolet, KIA, Hyundai, Toyota and Great Wall. These are the best performing brands but Nissan, Ford, Hino, Mazda, Volkswagen, Citroen and Renault also have a fair market share.

Refined petroleum

Because of the lack of capacity to refine their own crude oil the country finds itself importing refined oil to meet their domestic demand. Refined oil makes up 8.3% of the country’s total imports which is followed by coal tar oil that makes up 5.7%. Despite registering a 7% increase in oil reserves year by year the country is still struggling to create an infrastructure that can lead to self sufficiency when it comes to refining their own oil.

Ecuador has had a history of relying sustainably on hydropower and most of their capacity is located in the province of Azuay. But the country is currently grappling with debt following its investment into clean energy which has hampered their ability to continually rely on electricity for their domestic demand of power.

Since only four out of the seven projects funded by the Chinese to launch Ecuador into a self sufficient hydro power reliant nation are operational, the country is still reliant on refined oil to power the country. This means that the United State is the country’s premier import partner when it comes to refined oil products that are used to power the Ecuadorian economy.

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