Political instabilities, natural disasters, unemployment, and increased migration is taking their toll on the Ecuadorian economy
Ecuador- A developing country in South Africa that has visibly lower crime rates has been battling multiple crises and struggling economically. Political instabilities, natural disasters, unemployment, and increased migration is taking their toll on the Ecuadorian economy.
Ecuador’s president Guillermo Lasso currently faces an impeachment trial for alleged corruption charges. Lasso, who won a narrow election in 2021 is already halfway through his 4-year term. Guillermo Lasso is a rightwing leader in Latin America and the trial comes in as Lasso tries to get a hold of the increasing crime rates and economic fluxes.
Recently the president suffered unexpected losses in a referendum on mayoral contests and reforms which also sparked the leftist opposition to call for an early election in the country. Lasso had completed Covid-19 vaccination targets and had effectively restructured debt with China but had failed to contain drug-related violence in the country’s cities. Citibank mentions that Lasso’s ability will continue to decelerate following his defeat.
Lasso earlier survived an impeachment vote just June last year after legislators criticized his response to protests over climbing fuel and food prices. Former president Rafael Correa is definitely eyeing the next presidential election happening in 2025. Correa held the Ecuadorian office from 2007 to 2017 and his decade-long tenure has troubled relationships with other countries. Ecuador took $18 billion of loans from China during Correa’s tenure to finance a public spending boom.
Along with this, Ecuador distanced itself from the United States. Correa had to leave the office and went into exile due to some legal issues and in 2020, the court sentenced him in absentia to eight years in prison on bribe charges. The candidates from Correa’s Citizen’s Revolution (RC5) party won several regions in the elections conducted in February.
The acting director of Human Rights Watch Americas, Tamara Taraciuk Broner, stated that removing the president could impact the nation’s already weak institutions. 2035 bonds of Ecuador, which is the main indicator of market sentiment in an economy that is dollarized, have reduced steadily from 53 cents on the dollar in February to 33 cents as looming anxiety about the political outlook fires the investor demand for extra yield on the country’s sovereign debt.
A Fluctuating Economy
The World Bank, in its recent updates, gives us an overview of Ecuador’s economy and mentions that the market is slowly recovering from the general slacking triggered by the pandemic. The health crisis that hit the globe, and in Ecuador, revealed structural weaknesses like limited capital markets accessibility, increased rates of employment informality, deficiency of macroeconomic buffers, dependence on oil exports, and unequal access to public services. The government is currently working towards returning to a path of sustainable growth.
The organization has not made any significant changes to its forecast for Ecuador and stated that the economy will continue to grow by 3% in 2023. But for the upcoming two years, the predicted growth rate will be reduced to 2.8%.
However, the Central Bank of Ecuador cut the economic growth of the country for the year to 2.6% from the earlier forecast of 3.1% during March 2023, citing the effect of reduced oil exports. Ecuador’s oil operations have been affected by protests and earthquakes. The country’s energy ministry reduced its oil production forecast for the year 2023 by 8%. Petroecuador, the country’s state-run oil company produces the majority of Ecuador’s crude, and it announced force majeure on four blocks in March as the indigenous community protested over the delaying of the economic help that was promised.
The earthquake that hit the country in March also affected an offshore oil platform and led to a reduction in output. The bridge collapse also caused the forced closure of oil and gas pipelines, ultimately affecting exports. The targeted production of 520,000 barrels per day for 2023 would have to be reduced between 480,000 and 490,000 barrels per day. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country hit 2.9% last year by overtaking the estimates of 2.7%.
The economic struggles and increased crime rate in Ecuador increased the number of people being detained near the border with Mexico. The Biden administration’s policies that were introduced in January reduced illegal entry or border crossings targeting migrants from Haiti, Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua and getting Mexico to take them back. For migrants from Ecuador, however, this problem doesn’t arise.
The economy of the nation was hurt by the strikes against government cutbacks and the economic problems led to an increase in minor and violent crimes by affected people. In January, Ecuadorians overshadowed the mix of migrants incarcerated by Mexico for the first time. Presently many of the migrating Ecuadorians to New York are families. U.S Customs and Border Protection figures show that families with children have increased to about 60% of arrivals, up from 15% in the year 2020.
According to World Bank reports, the government is currently working on returning to a path of sustainable growth and financial stability. They also focus on improving employment opportunities by creating a more supportive environment for productivity and investments. However, tackling these challenges is an urgent requirement as the risk to the economy is also increasing through external factors like the Russia-Ukraine war. The mentioned risks will also affect the consensus-building efforts to bring political and social stability to face future challenges.