US-Ecuador Bilateral Relations Post-COVID: Build Back Better Together
On April 11, Guillermo Lasso won the presidency of Ecuador with the promise to revive the economy battered by COVID-19, pledging to eliminate the country’s fiscal deficit, promote job creation and expand in-bound trade and investment including in the oil sector where doubling production and reduced state ownership are key objectives. Indeed, in early July, President Lasso issued a decree and clear roadmap for the country’s energy sector.
Since his inauguration on May 24, President Lasso has set forth additional priorities, notably forging free trade agreements with both the United States and China. A visit by a delegation of United States senators underscored the desire for closer US-Ecuadorian trade ties.
President Lasso’s ambitious political and economic agenda is not without hurdles. As his administration transits its first 100 days, he faces political challenges in implementing his plans. In particular, there is opposition in the Ecuadorian Congress on a variety of issues including approval of strategic energy projects located in environmental sensitive tropical rainforests.
Further, President Lasso’s agenda for expanded trade and inward investment must overcome the impediment of investor confidence given the country’s below-investment-grade status that has historically limited opportunities for equity and debt financing for many Ecuadorian companies. Largely due to this constraint, since 2008 the Ecuador’s level of indebtedness to China has steadily grown to 77.7% of its total bilateral debt.
Organized by Institute of the Americas
In Cooperation with University of California Television