The Business Year

Guillermo Lasso

ECUADOR - Diplomacy

Guillermo Lasso

President, Republic of Ecuador

Bio

The Lasso administration has been working to improve the lives of Ecuadorians through sustained and environmentally responsible economic growth.

Ecuador is immersed in the consolidation of an environment of legal certainty for foreign investment. What steps have already been taken, and what can we expect in this regard?

Ecuador has solid foundations to have legal security that will allow us to attract more foreign investment into the country. We issued a bill with the main aim of attracting multi-million-dollars’ worth of investment and making the country a development hub in the region. This is our opportunity to give the country a solution to its unemployment levels by creating 2 million jobs in the four years of the administration. Our “Government of Understanding” (Gobierno del Encuentro) is opening Ecuador’s doors to the world to offer great business and investment opportunities for the benefit of Ecuadorians. This is why we continue to show the investment portfolio of over USD30,000 million that Ecuador offers. We want more of Ecuador in the world and more of the world in Ecuador, always for the benefit of the people.

Improving its infrastructure is key to Ecuador’s economic future. What role do PPPs play as a tool for economic and social development?

My commitment to the country is economic and social development. Therefore, we are encouraging investment attraction, and we are doing so using different tools. One of them are PPPs, which seek to generate partnerships between the public and private sectors to address infrastructural and public services’ needs. Without a doubt, PPPs will mark a difference in our economic development strategy for Ecuador, because with them we will be able to start more public works. More public works means more quality employment, a better quality of life, higher incomes, and better opportunities. This is a great challenge, and we will be able to overcome it with the assistance of investors with the best profiles to finance in a responsible, transparent, and sustainable way. We have identified over 50 projects that will improve the country’s public services and infrastructure. With this, we will boost the production chain and create more quality job positions.

There are sectors that stand out in terms of foreign investment in Ecuador: hydrocarbons, renewable energies, mining, and agricultural exports. What is your message regarding the existing opportunities in the country?

In November 2021, Ecuador became the main attraction point for investments in the region with its international business forum, Ecuador Open for Business. Along those same lines, in 2021 a total of 67 investment contracts were approved, reaching a record of USD2,158 million, which will create over 6,100 jobs, showing that the policy developed by the national government focused on investment attraction has been well received by national and international investors. And with the new legal regulations, we are proposing an innovative free-trade zones model that will reactivate the economy.

One of the mottos of your administration is “more of Ecuador in the world, and more of the world in Ecuador.” How is this premise being translated in the way you do business in Ecuador?

This is transversal to various strategic actions of the government, and the results are already visible. 2021 was concluded with two record figures: from January to December 2021, we reached USD18,092 million in non-oil exports, which represents an increase of 19.8% YoY. In addition, 2021 ended with a record figure of over USD2,100 million in signed investment contracts with national and foreign companies. This data show that we are regaining confidence. The negotiations of the trade agreement with Mexico are reaching their technical closure, consolidating our process of joining the Pacific Alliance. We will soon start negotiations for an agreement with China, and we will resume negotiations with South Korea. Canada, the Dominican Republic, and other countries are also on the agenda.

Ecuador is listed as a megadiverse country and is home to natural gems such as the Galápagos Islands. What is the importance of environmental protection in your government?

The ecological transition and care for the environment are state policies of my government. Therefore, we have taken big and significant steps toward these objectives, and we will continue to do so. One of the most important ones is the expansion of the new marine reserve of the Galápagos by 60,000sqkm, where extraction activities of any type will not be allowed and areas of critical ocean ecosystems, migrating routes, and feeding zones for endangered marine species will be preserved. Our commitment is to preserve the biodiversity, a non-renewable heritage of Ecuador.

A key component for the turn that Ecuador is taking is finding a balance between economy and society. What is your administration’s approach to this?

Our proposal has always been to keep a balance between these two premises. We are a responsible government that has made the economic situation transparent and has made the correct decisions to guide the country to a productive reactivation and meet the needs of Ecuadorians through: sustained and environmentally responsible economic growth that can create quality jobs for Ecuadorians; a responsible management of the economy that can generate confidence at national and international levels, translating into more investment and the creation of employment sources; fiscal stabilization with equity that makes it possible to guarantee social programs that favor vulnerable families, in addition to protecting future generations with a country that is less dependent on public finances; and transparent management of public resources to combat corruption and overspending.

What are the priorities for the Lasso administration looking to 2025?

The strategic priorities, up to 2025, are to leave a country on the path toward sustainable development, position Ecuador as a destination for national and international investment, open up more markets for our products and services, consolidate the competitiveness of our industries, and reach our objective of creating 2 million new formal jobs in Ecuador. Trade openness expands business opportunities for Ecuador and allows us to enter new international markets at more competitive prices. For this reason, we hope to end 2025 with 10 new trade agreements that will represent 81% of global GDP, 73% of global imports, 60% of the global population, and cover 86% of our non-oil exports. Our objectives are clear and ambitious, and we are determined to achieve them. In addition to having a great team in each of the state portfolios, we will achieve it because part of our vision is to collaborate with the private productive sectors and civil society. We will also make progress in reducing the fiscal deficit until we reach an equilibrium of public finances at the end of the administration. We will prioritize the budget focus on sectors such as health, education, security, and social inclusion. Let us not forget our major commitment to reduce chronic child malnutrition in children under the age of 2 by 6% by 2025. We will promote free and fair trade, in addition to consolidating our trade relationships with the US, China, South Korea, and Mexico (in the future with the Pacific Alliance). There will also be more productive loans for reactivation through public banking, as the Opportunity Loan that BanEcuador is giving at 1% interest rate with a 30-year term, and strengthening of dollarization, with international reserves that guarantee the deposits of private and public entities in the central bank.

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