President Donald Trump shakes hands with Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
UPDATED 9:43 AM PT — Thursday, February 13, 2020
President Trump recently hosted his Ecuadorian counterpart Lenin Moreno at the White House in an effort to advance mutual economic and political ties.
During their meeting Wednesday, the two leaders discussed a possible free trade deal, military contracts as well as their mutual commitment to freedom and democracy in Latin America.
President Trump noted the U.S.-Ecuador trade deal could be based off the USMCA accord with Mexico and Canada, which he called “a great model.”
“USMCA has been very successful already,” said the president. ” The fruits are really taking place. ”
Moreno highlighted the challenges his country is still trying to overcome after years of socialist rule. He said his predecessor, Rafael Correa, made numerous mistakes in foreign affairs and economic policies, including his support for the far-left regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro stands inside the Supreme Court in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. Maduro is at the court to give his annual presidential address. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)
Moreno pointed out that closer ties with the U.S. could help Ecuador restore its economy and international ties.
“We need to remember that the USA is the main trade partner for Ecuador and this is not only in terms of trade, but because we share many common values such as the love for liberty, democracy, justice, solidarity, fraternity and the respect of human rights,” stated the Ecuadorian leader.
President Trump said the U.S. could increase the imports of agricultural goods from Ecuador, while selling military equipment and manufactured goods to the country.
Moreno also expressed hope the U.S. could help Ecuador battle drug trafficking, corruption and organized crime. Ecuador has accepted around 400,000 Venezuelan refugees fleeing the Maduro regime in recent years and Moreno said that policy will continue.
These joint U.S.-Ecuadorian efforts could arguably improve stability, respect for human rights and boost U.S. influence in Latin America.
“Ecuador had a very unusual outlook on life, but with your great president, he realizes how important it is to get along with the United States,” said President Trump.
Critics have pointed out Moreno may be seeking U.S. support due to violent protests against his administration that are allegedly inspired by the Maduro regime. In the meantime, Ecuador remains a major recipient of U.S. foreign aid, but it’s unclear if the sides can reestablish a fair and reciprocal partnership going forward.