Country’s exporters hit hard by strong dollar; IESS meds available at pharmacies; Azuay remittances could top one billion; Illegal mine busted
Although the rapidly rising value of the dollar means vacations and imported items are cheaper, it’s bad news for Ecuador’s export sector. “This is hitting us very hard and the situation is made worse because of the pandemic and the indigenous strike,” says Felipe Ribadeneira, president of the Ecuadorian Federation of Exporters (Fedexpor). “The dollar has reached its highest value in relation to other currencies in the last two decades.”
Ribadeneira said the impact of a strong dollar is not only felt in markets in Europe and Asia but among Latin American trading partners. “There is a large imbalance now with Colombia, Peru, Chile and Argentina, which is hurting our manufacturers and growers,” he says. “Ecuadorian consumers are already increasing their purchases of imported products, in many cases purchasing foreign instead of local products.”
Ribadeneira said it may be necessary to for exporters to seek assistance from the government. Access to low interest loans and tax credits are topics he said Fedexpor is discussing with President Guillermo Lasso and the National Assembly.
“Because Ecuador has not concluded trade agreements with other Pacific nations and the U.S., we are at a competitive disadvantage,” he said.
Azuay remittances could top one billion dollars in 2022
Ecuador’s Central Bank said Tuesday that money sent home to Azuay Province by Ecuadorians living abroad could exceed one billion dollars in 2022. In the first three months of the year, remittances to the province totaled $269 million, with $216 million going to Cuenca.
Although the government does not keep an official count, an estimated 1.5 to two million Ecuadorians live abroad, most of them in the U.S., Spain and Italy. An estimated 60 percent send money to families in Ecuador on a regular basis.
Of Ecuador’s 24 provinces, Azuay ranks second behind Guayas in total remittances received.
IESS meds available at pharmacies
A year after Vice President Alfredo Borrero announced it, the program allowing IESS members to pick up medications at commercial pharmacies is underway. The program began last week at the Monte Sinaí and Abel Gilbert Pontón hospitals in Guayaquil and begins tomorrow in Cuenca for members who cannot obtain prescribed medicine at the José Carrasco Artega hospital pharmacy. The program will expand to Portoviejo and Quito in August.
According to Ecuador Health Minister José Ruales, 1,600 prescriptions were filled in the first four days of the program in Guayaquil. Seven commercial pharmacy chains have joined the program.
Army seizes dynamite, weapons at illegal mine
Army personnel confiscated 5,966 pounds of dynamite and 13,900 feet of ignition wire at an illegal mining site near Camilo Ponce Enriquez on Wednesday. In addition, soldiers seized weapons and ammunition at the mine in southwest Azuay Province, three hours from Cuenca.
The commander of the operation, Carlos Castro, said that five or six men, surprised by the arrival of the soldiers, fled into the nearby forest. “There has been extensive environment damage due to the artisanal mining in the area and we will station soldiers to ensure the work does not resume.”