The Business Year

Felipe Ribadeneira Molestina

ECUADOR - Economy

Felipe Ribadeneira Molestina

President of the Board, Ecuadorian Federation of Exporters (FEDEXPOR)

Bio

Felipe Ribadeneira Molestina is the President of the board of directors of FEDEXPOR. Prior to that, he was the president of FEDEXPOR from 2009 to 2016. Molestina is an expert in internationalization services, investment support, private-public negotiations, and foreign trade law. He specialized as a lawyer in business consulting from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador. He also has a master’s degree in economic law and public policy.

FEDEXPOR has been working to strengthen and internationalize Ecuadorian companies for 46 years to great success.

What are the keys to Ecuador’s economic reactivation?

It is a significant challenge, and we need dollars to be created, generated, and come from within the country. Since we have a foreign currency system, we depend on six external factors: the generation of foreign currency through non-renewable resources, such as oil and mining; remittances coming into the country; FDI; non-oil exports; credits from multilateral bodies; and tourism. During the pandemic, only the non-oil exports survived. However, Ecuador has the ability to export agro-industrial products to the whole world. Our exports did not stop and reached an USD15-billion record. A solution for real and sustainable economic growth over time is non-oil exports; however, we must also promote tourism and try to combine it with non-renewable resources.

Which sector has more potential within non-oil exports?

Ecuador has a steep learning curve in terms of its main export products. We have great potential in fishing, cocoa seeds, bananas, and shrimp. Since 2016, the growth of shrimp has tripled after breaking into the Chinese market. Some 60% of our export basket are winning products. We separate our products into traditional, previously mentioned, and non-traditional products.

What is the distinguishing factor of Ecuador’s products and exports?

Approximately 75% of the business corresponds to SMEs, though large companies move the economy. In the European market, Ecuador has products with internationals seals of high reference that consumers have been drawn to for over 10 years. Moreover, consumers want to know everything, from the principle of farmer to the market model, the history of the product, fair trade, and organic products. As a green country, Ecuador offers these guarantees. All these have made us professionals and given us international recognition, making our products among the best in the world. FEDEXPOR in its 46 years of institutional life stands out for its great experience in strengthening and internationalizing Ecuadorian companies, as well as promoting the growth of the country’s foreign trade and boosting the positioning of Ecuadorian products around the world.

How will the EU Green Circular initiative help Ecuadorian SMEs and associations facilitate cleaner production and move Ecuador toward becoming a circular economy?

We are proud to be able to take on this EU project. There are two fundamental aspects: learning about the circular economy, since SMEs have vague knowledge; and teaching them that it helps the company to be more efficient and productive. This helps to meet three important goals: meeting commitments to society; providing a social purpose; and generating profits. If large companies do not have these three elements, the new generations will not consume in the future. We have had a project underway for two months now and will carry out activities, deliver international experts, and go in situ to companies to raise awareness of the green circular economy and how it can be applied to their business plans.

What are your upcoming goals?

Our biggest challenge is logistics. It is a challenge of knowledge, which we will have to seek resilience and sustain it with the logistical problems of international level. In addition, we must be ready for when resource indications run out. Through actions, we will try to predict how global consumption will move and work on the internal competitiveness of our companies. FEDEXPOR must work on these two aspects while taking advantage of the fact that the government is open to settling on Ecuador’s main trade agreements expected for more than 17-18 years. Before the pandemic, we worked on a national export plan. We are now focused on four goals: reaching trade agreements; working on competitiveness; logistics; and increasing our capabilities, in order for more people to enter the sector and have an internationalization mission. Ecuador’s vision is to double non-oil exports and the federation from 10-15 years. In addition, we want to appeal to all investors, as Ecuador is changing for the better.

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