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Groundhog day?

In February 2013, still aglow after being elected for a third term in a landslide victory, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador told the FT this would be his final term and that, in this regard at least, his foes could “sleep in peace”.

Those foes may now be having nightmares after his ruling party, Alianza País, launched a plan to remove limits on re-election for presidents and other officials, potentially paving the way for the firebrand leftist leader to don the red, yellow and blue presidential sash for a fourth time in 2017 and, who knows, thereafter at four-yearly intervals. Continue reading »

Ignore Argentina’s spiralling debt vortex,global investors’ appetite for higher-risk assets remains hot. On Tuesday, another “debt defaulter”, Ecuador, finally took the plunge into the global credit market with the launch of a $2bn bond issue.

The 10-year dollar-sale is the first by the Andean nation since it defaulted voluntarily on $3.2bn worth of debt in 2008, when Ecuador’s leftist President Rafael Correa bit the bullet, calling bondholders “real monsters.” It was was priced at a 7.95 per cent yield. Continue reading »

Wasn’t it the case, about five years ago, that Ecuador’s foreign debt was “illegitimate” and its bondholders “real monsters”?

Well, it seems time cures everything. Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s leftwing president, said at the weekend his country was planning its first international bond issue since defaulting on $3.2bn of foreign debt in 2008 – and, six months later, buying most of it back at 35 cents on the dollar. Continue reading »

A year ago Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s leftwing president, was riding high after winning a third term in a landslide election.

Some say his party, Alianza País, got too used to winning. This week, Correa was looking more subdued after the opposition won the country’s key mayoralties – Guayaquil, Cuenca and, most painfully, the capital Quito – in Sunday’s local elections. Continue reading »

Calling all courageous bond-buyers out there! Ecuador says it is trying to re-enter the bond market, taking advantage of rising demand for emerging market debt.

Patricio Rivera, the minister for economic policy, told reporters on Wednesday the leftwing government might issue debt during the first half of this year. Continue reading »

Casa Gangotena in Quito: The view from your suite

With snowy Christmas and New Year holidays at hand, has the luxury traveller ever thought of escaping to Ecuador for some well-deserved indulgence?

Ecuador’s government said this year it would spend some $660m over the next four years to develop the tourism industry. But the sector is almost fully in the hands of private investors – and some jewels for the demanding world traveller are already in place. Continue reading »

Like Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder that it is sheltering in its London embassy, Ecuador and the state of its finances can be polarising subjects.

The debate is likely to be renewed again after Fitch on Friday decided to raise the Andean country’s credit rating by a notch, from B- to B. While the new rating still leaves the country – at five levels below investment grade – deep in junk territory, it is nonetheless something of a fillip for an economy that some think is on the verge of a crisis. Continue reading »

Some say it took millions of years, others say it took seven days, for the Amazon rainforest to be shaped. But it took just ten hours for Ecuador’s government-dominated assembly to authorise on Thursday “responsible” drilling in a pristine area of the jungle that is estimated to hold some 900m barrels of crude. Continue reading »

Will Ecuador’s long-running dispute with Chevron sour its relations with Argentina? After all, Argentina’s state-run YPF signed a $1.24bn deal with the US oil giant to develop vast shale reserves despite calls from Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s president, to boycott the company.

But friendship between leftwing leaders appears to be unconditional. Continue reading »

Ricardo Patiño, Ecuador’s foreign minister, said on Monday from a hotel in Hanoi that his country was “considering” an asylum request from Edward Snowden, the former US intelligence analyst and whistleblower. Patiño stressed that his country was acting not on its “interests” but on its “principles.”

Fair enough. But what about the trade preferences between Ecuador and the US that are up for review next month, and which Patiño’s embassy in Washington appears to be lobbying hard to keep in placeContinue reading »

It looked like a great idea on paper: change the law in order to attract more investments into the mining industry and diversify the economy away from a dependence on oil exports.

But that ambition was dealt a major blow on Monday after Canada’s Kinross Gold Corporation said it would scrap plans on a $1.3bn mining project in southeastern Ecuador because of a dispute with the government over a hefty windfall tax on revenues of 70 per cent. Continue reading »

Ecuador, the smallest of the OPEC members, is working hard to diversify away from a dependence on oil exports.

So now the country’s leftwing president, Rafael Correa, is pushing for a new law to fast track mining contracts and investments in the Andean country. Continue reading »

Spain’s economic crisis is writ large in the Inter-American Development Bank’s latest statistics on remittance flows to Latin America.

For years, thousands of Bolivians, Ecuadoreans and Colombians have been among those to seek work in Spain, legally or illegally. Whether young educated professionals, or poor maids, cleaners and construction labourers, these workers could see the advantages of saving Euros that would magically multiply back home into pesos or dollars or bolivianos. Continue reading »

Ecuador is licensing a chunk of the Amazon. After touring Asia, Europe and North America, the Andean country’s government has extended from late May to mid-July a deadline by which bid for oil blocks located in the southeast of the country must be submitted.

The government says this will give companies more time to appraise the region’s geology and fill out the necessary paperwork. To some, it could suggest Ecuador had received less interest than initially hoped for. Continue reading »

Looking much like the sketches from Charles Darwin’s “Voyage of the Beagle”, the wrapper illustrations on the chocolate bars made by Ecuador’s República del Cacao make much of the traditions and history of Ecuadorian chocolate, and of the adventures and journeys of discovery made by its pioneer chocolatiers.

Now República del Cacao is embarking from its own humble origins on a similar voyage of discovery. Continue reading »