QUITO – The governments of Ecuador and China signed a memorandum of understanding on a loan from Beijing to Quito to finance a $2 billion hydroelectric dam in the South American nation, the official Andes news agency said Tuesday.
Signed in Beijing by Ecuadorian Finance Minister Maria Elsa Viteri and directors of China’s Export-Import Bank, the memorandum marks the end of a sometimes-difficult phase of the ongoing talks.
“We concluded the round of negotiations and statements of understanding were signed that take notice of the advances which have been achieved,” Viteri told Andes from China.
She characterized those advances as “important,” though without providing any details.
“The negotiation is not finished, but there is progress,” the finance minister said, suggesting that the deal for the loan could be finalized in the near future.
Viteri’s visit to China came amid heightened expectations after Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa publicly complained that Quito felt “mistreated” in the talks with Beijing.
Assuming success in the negotiations, the Chinese loan will underwrite 85 percent of the Coca-Codo-Sinclaire hydroelectric dam in the Amazon region, which is to be the largest facility of its type in Ecuador.
The power plant will have the capacity to generate 1,500 MW of electricity, allowing it to meet about 70 percent of domestic power demand in the Andean nation.
Quito has designated the Chinese firm Sinohydro as the chief contractor on the project. EFE