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Only days after the US election, join us for a conversation with Foreign Relations Minister of Ecuador Luis Gallegos as he visits Washington. What can we expect for the future of the bilateral relationship? How can the United States and Ecuador work together to take on new challenges post-COVID-19? And what lessons can Ecuador offer Latin America and the Caribbean?
Streamed live from Atlantic Council headquarters, this show is part of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center’s Leaders of the Americas series, which offers insight and analysis at the highest level to discuss the most pressing issues faced by the region. Tune in on Monday, November 9, from 4:00 to 4:30 p.m. EST, for this conversation with H.E. Luis Gallegos, Ecuador’s Minister of Foreign Relations and Human Mobility.
H.E. Luis Gallegos
Minister of Foreign Relations and Human Mobility
Republic of Ecuador
Welcome remarks by:
Executive Vice Chair, Board of Directors
Founder, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center
Closing remarks by:
Vice President, Global Policy
Managing Director, Brazil
The Boeing Company
In conversation with:
Director, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center
By Gabriella Cova
On November 9, only days following the announcement of US election results, the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center of the Atlantic Council hosted Ecuador’s Foreign Relations Minister Luis Gallegos during his visit to Washington. As part of the Center’s Leaders of the Americas series, which offers high-level insight and analysis to discuss the most pressing issues in Latin America and the Caribbean, this conversation highlighted US-Ecuador cooperation against COVID-19, as well as the opportunities to strengthen economic, security, and diplomatic ties.
Jason Marczak, director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, delivered opening remarks by acknowledging the significance of Minister Gallego’s visit to Washington as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic and following a critical US presidential election. Adrienne Arsht, executive vice chair of the Atlantic Council and founder of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center, welcomed Minister Gallegos and acknowledged his pivotal role in strengthening the US-Ecuador relationship.
As the first international crisis of this dimension, COVID-19 has crippled economies and weakened health systems. At this important juncture, the minister commented, it is imperative to strengthen international solidarity and cooperation, especially as the world looks to a potential vaccine and its distribution.
When asked about the opportunities for the bilateral relationship with the Biden administration, Minister Gallegos cited security and trade as two priorities. With two million Ecuadorians living in the United States and one hundred thousand Americans living in Ecuador, these societies are so integrated that problems must be confronted simultaneously and systemically, he affirmed. Minister Gallegos emphasized the depth of US-Ecuador cooperation, saying that “much of [the bilateral] cooperation comes from people to people, church to church, family to family […], the strength of the relationship is on people-to-people and on how our values coincide.”
Minister Gallegos emphasized that a bilateral trade agreement will develop Ecuador’s commercial relationship with the United States, especially amid recent disruptions of global supply chains. He hopes that this bipartisan agreement can establish policies that will carry US-Ecuador relations beyond their upcoming administrations and boost development. “We would like to diversify the capabilities of Ecuadorian production […] if you allow the populations of our countries to join international markets, the benefits outweigh […] social strife,” the Minister said.
When discussing further opportunities to boost healthcare, the economy, and society, Minister Gallegos noted that there is a need for joint science and technology efforts with US “academia, governments, [and] laboratories. We, as a small country, have to have international relations with the United States, Europe, and other countries to supersede this in a structured way.” He also noted Ecuador has an opportunity to harness technological changes, such as the transition to the digital economy, remote-work options, and access to verified and trustworthy information.
Shifting the conversation to the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, Ambassador Paula Dobriansky, senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School of Government and former undersecretary of state for global affairs, posed the question of how Ecuador has and can continue to support the four hundred thousand Venezuelans that have migrated into the country. Minister Gallegos acknowledged the complex humanitarian crisis and the Venezuelan political crisis. He also described how COVID-19 is complicating Ecuador’s efforts to integrate Venezuelans into its workforce. Minister Gallegos thinks that Ecuador must prioritize long-term creative solutions to accommodate migrants. For example, he recently signed an agreement “in order to guide a half-million-dollar process to integrate entrepreneurship into the migratory stream of the Venezuelans that are coming to Ecuador.”
To close the conversation, Landon Loomis, vice president for global policy at Boeing, provided further insight into the importance of US-Ecuador relations. Loomis also outlined the importance of the air travel industry in Ecuador, contributing 207 thousand jobs and $3.2 billion to Ecuador’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).