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Ecuador Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

The COVID-19-virus pandemic and decline in crude oil prices will significantly weaken Ecuador’s economy. IHS Markit’s latest forecast indicates that GDP will likely contract by 5.1% in 2020. The government’s widening fiscal deficit in 2020 will likely force the government to implement spending cuts and reduce the size of the public sector to offset payments of transfers to low-income populations and aid to small businesses. Dollarisation, however, prevents the government from printing currency to finance any spending package. This, combined with low foreign-exchange reserves, has increased the risk of bankruptcies as firms struggle to obtain financial aid from the state. Liquidity problems have also increased default risks. On 24 March, Ecuador repaid USD326 million of external debt, but the government has reached a preliminary agreement with 53% of its bondholders for a debt restructuring programme that would extend Ecuador’s debt profile from an average life of 6.1 to 12.7 years, with 10 issues maturing between 2022 and 2030 being restructured into three new issues maturing in 2030, 2035, and 2040. For the agreement to be finalised, 66% of bondholders must accept the terms. If finalised, the restructuring would alleviate Ecuador’s liquidity difficulties, as the first payment on principal will only take place in 2026. The deadline is set for 15 August.The government is unpopular and was forced to backtrack from removing fuel subsidies, as advised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in October 2019 following violent anti-government demonstrations. The worsening economic crisis, combined with an elevated risk of civil unrest over the next year, will increase the probability of the Ecuadorean left uniting under a single candidate willing to renegotiate the country’s debt or deal with the IMF in the run-up to the February 2021 presidential election. The general election has been scheduled for February 2021 with a second round for the presidential election to take place in April.
Last update: July 25, 2020

Operational Outlook

Public and private labour strike risks are likely to increase in the 12-month outlook as the government struggles to bring the COVID-19 virus pandemic under control. Union membership is low, however the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples (Conaie) frequently acts as a catalyst for union activity. Although, employees in ‘strategic sectors’ including hydrocarbons, electricity, and telecommunications are not permitted to participate in industrial action, capacity to enforce this law is limited. The risk of institutional corruption remains very high, despite the administration’s efforts to tackle the issue. The COVID-19 pandemic is also highlighting the extent of corruption and incidences of bribery and overpricing have been particularly common.

Last update: June 17, 2020

Terrorism

Elevated

There are no known terrorist groups based in Ecuador. However, there is an isolated risk of terrorism incidents along the Colombian border. Dissidents of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) continue to operate in the provinces of Esmeraldas, and to a lesser extent, Sucumbíos. The last recorded terrorist attacks took place in 2018 committed by the Oliver Sinisterra between January and March in Las Esmeraldas. In response, the Ecuadorean and Colombian governments increased military co-operation along the border, killing the alleged leader of the group in December 2018. However, the group does not have political motivations in Ecuador to use explosives or target government assets.

Last update: July 25, 2020

Crime

There is a strong organised crime presence in Ecuador. The lack of visa requirements, a dollarised economy, and proximity to the world’s two largest cocaine-producing countries altogether create a favourable environment for organised crime. Ecuador is a drug-trafficking hub. Despite the presence of local and international organised crime groups, including Colombian and Mexican cartels, levels of violence remain relatively limited. Organised crime-related violence is highest in the port of Guayaquil and along the Colombian border. The number of robberies conducted by criminals on motorcycles is rising in Guayaquil.

Last update: March 21, 2020

War Risks

War risks are likely to remain moderate in 2020. Co-operation and effective diplomatic channels between Ecuador and Colombia, and Ecuador and Peru limit interstate war risks in Ecuador. Ecuador’s last interstate war was in 1995 with Peru over the Amazonian Cenepa Valley, but the 1998 peace agreement defused diplomatic tensions and bilateral relations remain cordial. In May 2019, Ecuador and Colombia signed a biannual joint security plan to expand bilateral security co-operation until 2021 to combat FARC dissident activity in the border region. Troop deployments are likely to be limited to addressing violent protests and frustrating the activities of illegal armed groups operating along the Colombian border, including FARC dissidents.

Last update: July 25, 2020

Social Stability

High

Typically, social unrest in Ecuador is driven by union actions or by environmental activism. COVID-19 lowered the intensity of protests in Ecuador during the first and second quarters of 2020, but these are likely to increase as restrictions begin to ease. After the peak of COVID-19 cases passes, concerns about food availability, inefficiency in the healthcare system, discontent over job losses, and austerity measures imposed to deal with a liquidity crisis will likely fuel social unrest, including looting in the 12-month outlook. The public has generally complied with lockdown restrictions, but socially distanced, non-disruptive protests have taken place with unions and indigenous organisations calling for further action as the lockdown ends.

Last update: July 28, 2020

Health Risk

Severe

Vaccines required to enter the country

No vaccinations are required to enter the country.

Vaccines recommended for all travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Vaccines recommended for most travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).

Vaccines recommended for some travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is generally recommended for travelers to the following regions: areas over 2300 m (7500 ft) in elevation east of the Andes Mountains in the provinces of Morona-Santiago, Napo, Orellana, Pastaza, Sucumbios, and Zamora-Chinchipe. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease; it should be taken ten days in advance to be fully effective.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Natural Risks

Severe

Ecuador is vulnerable to a number of natural disasters due to its location along the Pacific "Ring of Fire," a highly active seismic zone. Some 24 "active" or "potentially active" volcanoes are present in the country, in particular Cotopaxi, Sangay, Tungurahua, and Reventador, all of which erupt relatively often. Always heed instructions issued by local authorities when in the vicinity of volcanoes.

Similarly, earthquakes are common and can cause largescale damage and transportation disruptions, especially if landslides occur. In April 2016, a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale struck the northwest of the country, killing hundreds of people and leaving major material and infrastructural damages in its wake. More than a year later, the region is still in recovery. Offshore earthquakes also create the risk of tsunamis in coastal regions; in the event of such an earthquake, follow all instructions issued by local authorities (such as evacuation orders).

Flooding can occur year round but is particularly frequent during the rainy season, which begins in October and lasts until April/May, although this varies slightly by region.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Transportation

Elevated

When using taxis, use only licensed companies and avoid hailing taxis off the street. Drive with doors locked and windows rolled up.

Criminals frequently target intra- and inter-city buses, many of which are overcrowded and poorly maintained. Use secured buses, identifiable by a sticker placed on the sides and the windshield of the vehicle; these buses are equipped with surveillance cameras and a GPS system that allows local authorities to respond quickly in the event of a problem.

In any case, be vigilant when on buses, on which theft and other more serious crimes are regularly reported. It is advisable to avoid taking buses after sundown, particularly in the regions of Manabí and Guayas.

Last update: April 5, 2019

Practical Information

Climate

Ecuador's climate is, unsurprisingly, largely equatorial. Along the coast temperatures and humidity levels are high throughout the year. Rain is more abundant in the period between December and April as well as in the north as compared to the south. Days are generally hot and nights cool, with little variation in temperatures from season to season.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +593
Emergency Services: 911

Electricity

Voltage: 120-127 V ~ 60 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: April 5, 2019