QUITO (Dow Jones)
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa called on China to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two nations.
"We need to broaden and accelerate financial and commercial cooperation as Ecuador has a non-oil deficit of $4.6 billion with China, which worsened after the imposition of dollarization," Correa told Li Chang Chun, the head of a Chinese delegation visiting Ecuador Wednesday, according to a statement from the presidency Thursday.
The Chinese delegation represents the Central Committee of the Community Party of China.
Correa asked China to invest in the construction of a major airport in Ecuador's Amazon region and said that his country expects flights of passengers and cargo from China en route to the rest of Latin America.
According to Correa, the planned construction of a coastal refinery to process heavy crude, above all from the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini oil field, "is strategic for the supply of fuels to China."
According to energy authorities, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (SNP), or Sinopec, is one of the companies interested in developing the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini field that has proven reserves of about 1 billion barrels of petroleum at 15 degrees API and will require at least $5 billion to develop.
According to Li Chang Chun, Ecuador is the largest recipient of Chinese investment in Latin America, currently around $1.8 billion.
The bulk of that investment is in the oil sector after the Andes Petroleum Co. Ltd consortium bought the oil and pipeline assets of Canada's EnCana Corp. (ECA) for $1.42 billion in 2005.
Andes Petroleum is jointly owned by China National Petroleum Corp., which holds 55%, and Sinopec, which holds 45%.
Li Chang Chun also said that his country supports Ecuador's entry into the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.
APEC was founded in 1989 with the participation of 12 nations to promote free trade, investment and technical and economic cooperation. It currently includes 21 countries from the Pacific Basin including Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Peru and Chile.
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