Oil remains central to Ecuador's economy. Half of its national budget is funded by the hydrocarbons industry, and the fall in oil prices since mid-2014 has led to economic stagnation. The economy contracted 2% in 2016, and is expected to grow less than 2% this year.

At the end of May, left-leaning Lenín Moreno assumed the presidency after narrowly defeating market-friendly candidate Guillermo Lasso. There is every indication that in energy he will follow the same general policy of his predecessor Rafael Correa - he is from the same party and was vice-president under Correa - though continued economic hardship coupled by low oil prices might mean he has no choice than to push for greater openness in the energy sector.

Ecuador's new president, Lenin Moreno, who is paraplegic, being congratulated by ex-president Rafael Correa.

Already Moreno has shown an indication of a degree of willingness to change.

The new president has appointed several market-friendly cabinet ministers, including former Halliburton executive Carlos Pérez as oil minister. He has hinted that he might review the controversial communication law put in place by Correa that severely limits the free press.

In the weeks after the election, trade minister Pablo Campana pledged to seek new markets for Ecuador's exports. He said he would work to forge closer ties between the government and the private sector, while establishing new trade accords with Japan, South Korea and India. He added he would work to restructuring the country's burgeoning foreign debt.

"We need immediate results. There are no small countries or regions when it comes to opening up markets," Campana told Guayaquil paper El Telégrafo. "The president has told us to seek long-term investments, mainly in the mining, oil, industrial and agro-industrial sectors."

Figure: GDP


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