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Country Reports

Ecuador Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Ecuador’s fiscal and external position is highly vulnerable to the declining oil prices. Policy options are limited as the economy is dollarised and the government is unable to apply monetary policy decisions, while boosting government expenditure is limited, in the context of an expected 3.6% of GDP fiscal deficit. Furthermore, foreign-exchange reserves have declined by 19.0% since December 2019 to USD1.8 billion as of mid-March 2020. Finance minister Richard Martinez is seeking financing options for Ecuador to honour its debt.President Lenin Moreno announced on 10 March a USD1.4-billion budget cut and a plan to improve debt-payment terms previously agreed with creditors while seeking USD2 billion via external financing. The government has also deferred income tax payments and offered preferential loans to businesses and individuals amid a lockdown of the country because of the COVID-19 virus spread. The government expects the measures to help offset around USD2.2 billion in 2020 in estimated losses because of lower oil prices, at around USD8 million per day in projected revenue, and COVID-19-virus-related negative shock. 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 of the 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. In the context of slow economic growth, IHS Markit expects GDP to grow 0.5% in 2020, and electorate discontent against the IMF means that the ruling party is likely to struggle to secure re-election.
Last update: March 20, 2020

Operational Outlook

Public and private labour strikes are likely to increase in frequency during 2020 as the government seeks to reduce the public wage bill by USD1 billion and pass reforms to make the labour market more flexible. Labour militancy is also likely to be encouraged by the government’s policy capitulation in the face of prolonged protests over fuel subsidy reform in October 2019. However, trade unions are prohibited from engaging in strikes in ‘strategic sectors’ including hydrocarbons, electricity, and telecommunications. Corruption remains a significant risk throughout the political system, although bribery solicitation risks have reduced following a high-profile government crackdown.

Last update: December 19, 2019

Terrorism

Elevated

There is an isolated risk of terrorism incidents along the Colombian border. Dissidents of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) – considered criminals in Colombia but described as terrorists by the Ecuadorian government – continue to operate in the provinces of Esmeraldas, and to a lesser extent, Sucumbíos. In 2018, the dissident ‘Oliver Sinisterra front’, kidnapped and killed three Ecuadorian journalists in Esmeraldas. The group has also been responsible for several improvised explosive device (IED) attacks against state security forces and an electricity pylon. In response, the Ecuadorian and Colombian governments have increased military co-operation along the border, killing the alleged leader of the group in December 2018.

Last update: March 24, 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. 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 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) dissidents. Since early 2018 the government has deployed additional military personnel to the Colombian border following several improvised explosive device attacks against state security forces in Esmeraldas province by FARC dissidents. Relations with Peru remain cordial despite the temporary recall of Peru’s ambassador in protest at the building of a border wall in 2017.

Last update: March 24, 2020

Social Stability

High

On 3 October 2019, large-scale nationwide anti-government protests erupted following the implementation of a decree eliminating fuel subsidies. The government followed by declaring a 60-day state of emergency. Protesters marched on Quito, erecting roadblocks, fighting with state security forces, and forcibly occupying the presidential palace, as well as oilfields in Orellana and Sucumbíos provinces, forcing a suspension of production. The rescinding of the fuel subsidy decree significantly reduced the intensity of protests, although an ongoing austerity programme, coupled with the plans to mitigate the impact of the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) virus and declining oil prices means that here is a high risk of resurgent protests during 2020.

Last update: March 21, 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