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Mexico and Ecuador made “substantial progress” toward a Productive Integration Agreement in the ninth round of negotiations held between Monday, May 23, to Friday, May 27, in Quito, the Ecuadorian Ministry of Production, Foreign Trade, Investment and Fishing said Monday, May 30.

“The negotiating teams of both countries held high-level technical meetings in which significant progress was made with a view to closing the agreement,” the ministry said in a statement.

The latest round of talks addressed such issues as market access, rules of origin, sustainable fishing, commercial defense, institutional matters and services and investment.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso called for the talks to strengthen their respective economies through the proposed agreement, said the ministry.

Also attending the talks were Mexican Undersecretary of Foreign Trade Luz María de la Mora and her Ecuadorian counterpart, Daniel Legarda, as well as representatives from both countries’ private productive sectors.

Negotiations began in 2019 toward the trade agreement, which will also pave the way for Ecuador to enter the Pacific Alliance trade bloc as a full member.

Comprising Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru, the bloc represents the world’s eighth-largest economy and 38 percent of the gross domestic product of Latin America and the Caribbean.

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