QUITO – Facing the crisis caused by the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that rocked Ecuador’s northern coast in April and dealing with the country’s economic problems will be the government’s focus during President Rafael Correa’s 10th year in office.
“This last year will be the handling of the earthquake crisis, and dealing with the economic problems that we’re already facing,” said Correa in his report to the nation at the close of his ninth year in power.
Correa referred to the economic difficulties that have been caused for Quito by the drop in the international price of oil and the $1 billion ruling of an international arbitration committee in favor of Occidental Petroleum.
In addition, he mentioned the collapse of the Russian market, one of Ecuador’s main non-petroleum markets, and China’s economic slowdown, Beijing being one of Quito’s biggest financiers.
“The difficult foreign context caused exports to fall by $7.4 billion in 2015, and foreign financing also dropped by (about) $2 billion. That is, $9.2 billion failed to enter into economic circulation, equivalent to more than 9 (percentage) points of GDP,” the U.S.-trained economist said.
He added that in 2015 and 2016 “$6 billion, 6 percent of GDP, (was cut) from the state budget, basically in investment, in such a way as to affect the poorest (citizens) and economic activity to the least extent possible. By far, it’s the biggest adjustment in all of Latin America.”
Despite the difficulties of recent months, the president said that the 10 years of his administration have been a “winning decade,” with the country “completely different” now than when he took office in 2006.
Average growth between 2007 and 2015 “was 3.9 percent, while in Latin America (as a whole) it was 2.9 percent,” he added.
In 2006, “the economy was $46 billion in size. Nine years later, it’s more than double that size, about $100 billion,” Correa said, adding that between 2009 and 2015 1.9 million Ecuadorians emerged from poverty.