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Ecuador President Lenin Moreno gets $1B from China during visit

By Renzo Pipoli
Ecuador President Lenin Moreno gets $1B from China during visit
Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno are seen at a welcome ceremony Wednesday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. Photo by Fred Dufour/EPA-EFE/Pool

Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno said Wednesday China has given $1 billion in loans and aid to help the South American nation with a variety of matters.

Moreno said Ecuador received the money in three disbursements -- including $900 million in loans, $30 million in aid and $69.3 million for reconstruction work after a recent earthquake.

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Moreno made the announcement Wednesday on the second of a three-day visit to Beijing, during which he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Xi expects the two sides to jointly promote cooperation in areas like infrastructure, production capacity, agriculture, information technology, new energy and environmental protection, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported. In return, the report said, Xi expects Ecuador to create a good investment environment and protect Chinese enterprises in Ecuador.

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The meeting followed an event Tuesday in which Moreno met with Chinese investors, as Ecuador wants to increase trade and expand the number of Chinese companies working in Ecuador -- which officials say presently totals 144.

China has been Ecuador's main financing partner for the last decade -- with loans, investments and anticipated crude sales tied to credits, Expreso reported Wednesday.

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Thursday, Moreno will visit the technological development center of Huawei and meet with Chinese Premier of the State Council Li Keqiang and Standing Committee of the People's Congress Chairman Li Zhansu, Telegrafo reported.

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The $900 million, six-year loan carries a 6.5 percent annual interest rate and a two-year grace period, Expreso reported. There's also the possibility Ecuador can use two credit lines in the future worth $3.5 billion.

As for the $69.3 million loan, it carries a 2 percent interest rate to help with earthquake reconstruction. Ecuador was hit in April 2016 by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 660 people and left nearly 29,000 in need of refuge. The quake also caused widespread infrastructure damage.

The third disbursement, a $30 million donation, will go toward Ecuadorean military investment.

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Non-oil exports from Ecuador to China are set to exceed $765 million this year. Ecuador is a large importer of Chinese products including vehicles, an Ecuador government statement said.

Moreno will next travel from China to fellow OPEC group member Qatar for a two-day visit Friday and Saturday. Qatar announced last week it was leaving the 15-member organization at the end of the year, after nearly 57 years of membership. Ecuador rejoined OPEC in 2007.

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